Contestants Share What the Miss USA Title Means to Them
The 2017 MISS USA® Competition airs live TONIGHT, Sunday, May 14th on FOX at 8pm ET! Get ready to see women representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia compete for the opportunity of becoming the next Miss USA.
Ahead of the competition, we asked this year's contestants what the Miss USA titles means to them. See their answers below and watch who takes home the crown tonight on FOX!
Miss Alabama USA Baylee Smith: "The Miss USA title means breaking the stereotype 'pageant girl.' I decided to compete in the Alabama state pageant three weeks prior to the competition. I decided I wanted to work with one coach, one time. I did not want to be over coached. I just wanted to be myself. I have short hair, which shows girls you do not have to have long beautiful locks or even extensions to do well. This was also my first year as a 'Miss.' The Miss USA title means being genuinely unapologetically myself."
Miss Alaska USA Alyssa London: "Being Miss USA means I would have the honor and opportunity to show people of all ethnicities the importance of embracing one’s heritage and celebrating what makes us unique. As a young woman who is of Alaska Native/American Indian and European descent, I would be inspiring youth worldwide to celebrate their own culture and background, and to appreciate the value of ethnic diversity."
Miss Arizona USA Tommy Lynn Calhoun: "To me, Miss USA embodies all that is remarkable and unique about real women. Emphasis on ‘real’. “Beauty Queens” aren’t what they used to be. We’re more than hair and makeup, our faces, or our bodies. We’re a voice. A force. A modern-day group of women who come from different backgrounds, walks of life, and perspectives. We’ve been through things. Life changing things. We’ve done great things - noticed and unnoticed, quietly and with big megaphones. We’re country girls, service women, models, actresses, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and community activists. We have something to say. We have work to do. Empowering people - not just women - but all people, those with a voice, those still finding their way. That’s what I believe Miss USA should be, and what I aspire to be every day."
Miss Arkansas USA Arynn Johnson: "Having the title of Miss USA is a huge responsibility, but it is also a huge blessing. You are given the opportunity to impact so many people in so many ways. You have to be a role model. You have to be someone that just about anyone can turn to. You have to show poise and elegance in all situations. Having the title of Miss USA wouldn't just be about me, it would be about how I choose to impact others. I would devote my years to changing the lives of others for the better."
Miss California USA India Williams: "Miss USA is a woman who can be a representative from any background or culture. The title is a phenomenal platform to inspire others and have an opportunity to engage people from all walks of life."
Miss Colorado USA Sabrina Janssen: "Miss USA embodies so much of what it means to be a strong, independent woman. She is beautiful, not because of her looks, but because of her drive to impact those around her. To earn the job opportunity of being Miss USA would absolutely be a dream come true."
Miss Connecticut USA Olga Litvinenko: "The Miss USA title means to me a once in a lifetime opportunity to give me access to a network that will both help amplify my message promoting causes dear to my heart and expose me to a greater variety of cultures and learning experiences that will only better my character and existing efforts."
Miss Delaware USA Mia Jones: "The Miss USA title means that the individual is a relatable role model and the mouthpiece for those who do not have a large platform."
Miss District of Columbia USA Kára McCullough: "The Miss USA title is an opportunity for me to be a change agent and expand beyond what I am doing presently. The Miss USA title will allow me to be an ambassador in the STEM field for many children, students, and women. I want to foster the greatness or science in children at a tender age, so they don’t have to endure the cycle of fear I did. STEM education is critical for all students. The opportunities are endless in the STEM field. As Miss USA I want to expand my nonprofit into colleges and create a high school Nuclear Engineering and Radiochemistry bridge program at universities that feature a nuclear program."
Miss Florida USA Linette De Los Santos: "It is about being independent and secure in yourself and to try and help others find their path in life. If I were to win, it would be proof to everyone that no matter what you are going through if you believe in yourself and work hard you can achieve anything you want. My year as Miss Florida USA did not start out the conventional way as I took over from the original winner, but I overcame all of the challenges and adversity thrown my way by staying true to myself and working hard to make sure everyone is proud of me and the way I have represented our beautiful state."
Miss Georgia USA DeAnna Johnson: "As a young girl, I was very influenced by the opinion of others. I never journeyed outside of my comfort zone in fear of judgment and ridicule. As a woman who has faced her anxieties, I pride myself on living life fearlessly and never allowing the opinion of others, or even what others perceive to be failures, determine where and how far I go in life. To earn the title of Miss USA would be a testament to my hard work, but would also give me an amazing platform and opportunity to inspire young women to never let fear hinder them from reaching their goals. Whether that be the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, or the fear of other's opinions, I want to empower women to be relentless in the pursuit of their dreams."
Miss Hawaii USA Julie Kuo: "The Miss USA title will allow me an even bigger platform for me to speak out about issues I am most concerned with and passionate about, such as immigration. As a first generation immigrant, I represent the many different faces of America. I believe it is time we have another Asian-American to represent the United States at Miss Universe!"
Miss Idaho USA Cassie Lewis: "Miss USA is the epitome of women's empowerment. She is a confident woman sharing her gifts, talent, and heart to make positive change in the world."
Miss Illinois USA Whitney Wandland: "Being Miss USA, to me, means loving what makes you different; embracing your own charisma, culture and characteristics, which is what this great country is made of. We are a nation of people from different locations, all working and living together to create a land of dreams and opportunity. By projecting confidence in one’s self and beliefs, Miss USA represents the masses! She isn’t afraid to dream. She isn’t afraid to have a voice. She works hard for what she wants in life, and she never gives up. The title of Miss USA is a luxury and should not be taken lightly. It requires tenacity, spunk, a little bit of grit, and a whole lot of poise. The Miss USA title is symbolic of all of the girls that aren’t able to fully be who they want to be because of what society, family or friends have to say. Regardless off the critiques that other people may project on to them, they, with their many imperfections, can tell their own story and one day become Miss USA. That is what this title means to me."
Miss Indiana USA Brittany Winchester: "It represents an enormous opportunity, as well as enormous responsibility. It is the chance to be an advocate on a national stage for all women to be self-confident and empowered in their own health. I want to use my unique voice as an advocate for skin cancer awareness and a future fitness model to focus on women’s health, inspiring everyone I meet – in person, online, through print or video – to focus on their own self-care. Being confidently beautiful comes from overall health, and this title means I will have a voice to lift up an entire country."
Miss Iowa USA Kelsey Weier: "To be Miss USA is the ultimate dream. When I was a little girl I remember wishing ever year on my birthday that someday I would feel beautiful and confident. I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today and I am very proud of the strides I made through the years. Miss USA is not just a title for me its my dream job. I know how it feels to be that little girl who looks at herself with a distorted view and wish she was more. As Miss USA the title would give me so many opportunities to show girls that when you start to think positive thoughts, good things start to happen."
Miss Kansas USA Catherine Carmichael: "The title of Miss USA is something I have been dreaming about since I watched my first Miss USA pageant with my grandma at five years old. And as I grew up and started to pursue this dream it became so much more. I stood on stage in the top 2 at my state pageant and as they called my name as the winner I suddenly realized in that moment the amount of influence that I had been given. Normal every day people can always be proponents of change, but through our state titles, and ultimately the title of Miss USA, we are given a much larger platform to make a difference in the lives around us. Miss USA is a woman who exemplifies grace, intelligence, humility, and overall a strong figure who was never afraid to chase a dream and go after a goal. The title of Miss USA would not only be a dream come true, but it would be the beginning of a job that requires a love for what truly matters. Which is giving of ourself through the crown and sash to make the world a better place!! And its a job I'm ready for!"
Miss Kentucky USA Madelynne Myers: "The title allows me to go forward as a modern, independent woman to empower and encourage others to see everyone as an individual and that we do have the right to choose our own destiny. I want to be a surgeon and make the world a better place. I have been raised that being female is an amazing aspect of who I am, but should not limit me from following my dreams whatever they may be."
Miss Louisiana USA Bethany Trahan: "Miss USA is a woman who is not afraid of being herself or expressing her opinion. She represents strong women everywhere and is a role model that inspires not only women, but everyone in the United States that they can do anything they want no matter their race, religion, or economical background!"
Miss Maine USA Brooke Harris: "The title of Miss USA provides an opportunity to share your story and inspire others, to make a difference in the lives of those who admire you, and to embrace the beauty of sisterhood!"
Miss Maryland USA Adrianna David: "The Miss USA title would afford Adrianna the opportunity to raise awareness for her philanthropy, Charities Angels 501(c)(3), and the organizations they provide funding for as well as promoting the Miss Universe Organizations causes."
Miss Massachusetts USA Julia Scaparotti: "Miss USA is so much more than just a title. It is women empowerment and believing in yourself while spreading good will across the country and world. I want to inspire everyone to be kind, to be confident, and to most importantly love one another. We are all unique individuals and Miss USA represents strength and encourages diversity."
Miss Michigan USA Krista Ferguson: "Miss USA means that you are an influential spokesperson of the country. To me, its important to be relatable and show compassion to others seeking guidance. Having the creditability of the title Miss USA allows me to reach a larger audience to show awareness of Diabetes. Spreading the knowledge of Diabetes can not only educate others but save the lives of those that unknowingly have the disease."
Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould: "The Miss USA title is an opportunity to spread my message of financial literacy to students of all ages across the country. The future of our country can only be as strong as those who run it and support it, and we need to be making sure that the citizens of the United States of America are equipped with the necessary knowledge to secure not only their personal futures, but also the future of the nation as a whole."
Miss Mississippi USA Ashley Hamby: "The title of Miss USA means responsibility. Being Miss USA means you take on the responsibility of putting other people before yourself as you step into the role as a brand ambassador and role model. Personally, I would feel a responsibility to share my passion for education and literacy with the country and the world. It would be my sincerest desire to lessen the illiteracy statistic from 12% in this country to 0%."
Miss Missouri USA Bayleigh Dayton: "The Miss USA title is defined by me as limitless. I am the very first African American Miss Missouri USA, I am a sexual abuse survivor, I am an educated and fearless woman and the Miss Universe organization reminds me that I do not have a story of a victim, but of a victory. Miss USA is a woman of character and integrity that is not defined by stereotypes, situations or circumstances but a woman who can overcome her obstacles and use them to inspire the world. It would be the greatest honor of my life to serve my country as Miss USA."
Miss Montana USA Brooke Bezanson: "Winning Miss USA would be a dream-come-true and a moment in time that would change Brooke's life forever. To travel and visit every corner of this amazing country and share her optimism and excitement for life is the 'gift' she would love to give."
Miss Nebraska USA Jasmine Fuelberth: "Miss USA is the title of a woman who never gave up on her huge dreams, has a message of encouragement for all she encounters, and has a heart for others in the most sincere form. In my eyes, Miss USA is about inspiring people of all ages and serving others. Over the last decade of watching Miss USA, that is what I have decided the title of Miss USA means, and I do my best each day to emulate those traits!"
Miss Nevada USA Lauren York: "Being crowned Miss USA would enable me to bring my support of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to a national scale, where I can advocate on behalf of the organization and serve as a role model for young people, encouraging them to make responsible choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol."
Miss New Hampshire USA Sarah Mousseau: "Miss USA is a title that carries significant prestige and most importantly the power to make a positive difference and leave behind positive change. To me the title would be an opportunity to break boundaries - to prove that Miss USA is, above all else, a woman of substance. The beauty of Miss USA exceeds the superficial. Miss USA is a woman who is educated, who leads by example, who is strong-willed and passionate while being kind, personable, and most importantly approachable. Being Miss USA would give me the opportunity to break stereotypes and boundaries, showing the world that we are women who are successful in our careers and are independent, strong, and powerful."
Contestants Share What the Miss USA Title Means to ThemMiss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg: "Miss USA is my Mount Everest. The title of Miss USA is a responsibility, opportunity, and honor for me. It is a responsibility because Miss USA is always being watched. Not only by pageant followers and enthusiasts, but by young girls all over the nation who are looking up to Miss USA as a role model. It is an opportunity to spread awareness about and contribute to women’s empowerment through education on a larger scale. When one girl is educated, the entire world benefits. Nothing would mean more to me than being able to help a girl complete her education and take charge of her own life choices. Finally, winning Miss USA would be a huge honor. It is already an honor to be competing as Miss NJ USA on this stage, but winning Miss USA would show that America truly is one of the greatest countries in the world because in this country, a young girl who comes to this nation with her family and just $500 can someday have the opportunity of representing the USA among people from all over the world. It would show that the American Dream isn’t just a dream, it is a reality."
Miss New Mexico USA Ashley Mora: "To me, the title of Miss USA is a symbol of hope. The title gives women like myself, across the entire world hope and inspires them to follow their dreams. I envision the title as an opportunity for me to share a piece of my heart with the world. I believe Miss USA is a purpose driven woman, which is exactly the kind of woman that I am. In this world so many women today feel defeated, that they may not be the prettiest, smartest, or the most talented but my mission will be to inspire and stress that hard work will always out work talent when talent doesn’t work. I want to be that symbol of hope that if you have a dream and you stay dedicated each day, you can achieve anything. I want young children, men, and women, to look at me and say, 'She did it, so can I.'"
Miss New York USA Hannah Lopa: "For Hannah, becoming Miss USA would mean that she can show other victims of abuse that they do not have to be limited by their circumstances. She hopes to inspire women in similar situations to have the strength to rebuild their lives and regain their self-esteem."
Miss North Carolina USA Katie Coble: "To me, the Miss USA title is an incredible opportunity to leave a legacy. Over 300k women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the US every year. I have watched my own mother win her battle against breast cancer and my grandmother unfortunately lose her fight to the disease. To honor them, while also being a spokesperson for so many others without a voice would be a tremendous honor. In addition to this honor, the title will also help to provide invaluable tools to advance my career goals of working in the entertainment industry."
Miss North Dakota USA Raquel Wellentin: "The Miss Universe Organization has a commitment to celebrating the diversity of beauty. Being in an interracial relationship for the past 4 years has presented a set of challenges for me with friends and family. To me, the title means having the ability to honor the many cultural backgrounds, religions, races and differences that make people & their relationships with one another unique and beautiful in our country. The title of Miss USA means being a representative for all people from all situations by cherishing and encouraging an inclusive country."
Miss Ohio USA Dinaleigh Baxter: "A person that is a role model for all individuals, someone with class who is tolerant, accepting, open minded to all cultures and ways of life. Miss USA empowers others to be themselves and realize they are enough, to love every part of who they are."
Miss Oklahoma USA Alex Smith: "Being crowned Miss USA would be a prestigious honor for Alex. To be chosen to represent the entire United States would be remarkable. The knowledge that she would gain could not ever be duplicated. Being a part of this pageant is a great way to build confidence, gain communication skills, and make lifelong friends. The title of Miss USA represents a woman of empowerment and a woman that is truly confidently beautiful inside and out."
Miss Oregon USA Liz Denny: "The Miss USA title is proof that a woman who is confident in who she is, stays true to herself, her goals and her dreams can truly accomplish anything."
Miss Pennsylvania USA Cassandra Angst: "Competing for the Miss USA title means that I have fulfilled my childhood dream. Winning the title would mean that I could advocate the severity of eating disorders in this country and hopefully impact the lives of others...young and old...male or female!"
Miss Rhode Island USA Kelsey Swanson: "Being Miss USA has always been a dream of mine; It means I can use my voice to inspire and empower the youth to push towards personal growth and overcome shyness and adversity. I would advocate for issues like breast cancer awareness and brain tumors awareness."
Miss South Carolina USA Megan Gordon: "Motivational speaking for young girls, advocating for children, modeling, nursing and being Miss South Carolina USA are all hats that I proudly wear. The seamless thread in all of my passions is my ability to represent. When I look into the eyes of those young girls that I am speaking to and inspiring, I represent them. When I am on the set of a photo-shoot modeling, I represent that brand. When I am at the hospital and advocating for my pediatric patient, I represent them. The Miss USA title gives women the opportunity to represent themselves in the best way possible. Representation is incredibly important in today’s society and if I am given the opportunity to become the next Miss USA, I would be honored to represent myself, this nation and my passions all while inspiring other young women to do the same."
Miss South Dakota USA Tessa Dee: "Miss USA is the embodiment of every woman and her individual power to make a difference in her community, be confident in her own kind of beauty, and through her outreach, ignite bravery and conviction in women across the Universe."
Miss Tennessee USA Allee-Sutton Hethcoat: "The Miss USA title means the opportunity to better herself through her experiences as titleholder and preparations for Miss Universe, better her country and the lives of its residents through her humanitarian, philanthropic and charitable efforts and better her life by having a larger audience to support her dreams of one day being both an active member of the entertainment industry both as a performer and attorney."
Miss Texas USA Nancy Gonzalez: "The title means 'opportunity.' It holds the opportunity to share my story of abuse on a bigger platform so I can reach and empower more women. It also provides an opportunity to expand my network, travel to places I had never imagined, and the opportunity to grow as a person while representing several causes."
Miss Utah USA Baylee Jensen: "The Miss USA title to me means so much more than the crown and sash. There is an obligation to be the good will ambassador to not only sponsors and organizations, but also charities, children and the people of the United States. At times there will be need for raising awareness and educating, and when appropriate, celebrating successes, acceptance and change."
Miss Vermont USA Madison Trimbey Cota: "The 2017 Miss USA title means an opportunity to show women and girls across the country and around the world that they can take a stand to be boldly limitless. As a student, an athlete, a woman in the workforce, and a girl from a small town in the country I have never allowed myself to be placed in one box. We are fortunate to live in an age where women have the ability to achieve any dream."
Miss Virginia USA Jaqueline Carroll: "Miss USA is a beautiful, confident woman with outer beauty shining from within. She has a good soul and has compassion for others. Having the Miss USA title would allow me a more global audience so I may continue on a broader scale to build the confidence of boys and girls across the country with my message: SHINE!" Miss Washington USA Alex Carlson-Helo: "I was told I couldn't walk again. I was told pageantry was out of the question. Rheumatoid Arthritis attempted to take my hopes and dreams away. While the Doctors told me I can't, I figured out how I can. Being Miss USA is the ultimate revenge against an invisible disease and I would bring hope and motivation to everyone especially those affected by a silent illness."
Miss West Virginia USA Lauren Roush: "Miss USA means opportunity to promote positive change and establish new frontiers. Sadly, negative stereotyping of Appalachian culture and its people is one of the last widely acceptable forms of discrimination. A lack of understanding of our heritage continues to promote ignorant and unacceptable typecasting at the expense of our citizens. Ridicule related to poverty, incest, and intellect based solely on geography continues to be commonplace in our society. West Virginians, myself included, are often born into adversity and face a lifetime of struggle. But I have found that in the struggle, you find your calling, which is exactly what happened to me. It provides a platform for every young girl to realize that we rise by embracing our roots and by lifting others. There is a true beauty in the faith, values, and kindness of the people around me. It is time for the United States to share and appreciate our strengths, as well as our significant contributions to the nation. By becoming Miss USA, I will prove that Appalachian women can be role models to the entire country and will be a living example that our dreams are much bigger than our circumstances."
Miss Wisconsin USA Skylar Witte: "To me, the title of Miss USA is a chance to make an impact. With my program 'Sky's the Limit,' I have talked to 8,000 middle school students sharing a message I wished I would've heard at their age. I tell stories about my own vulnerabilities in middle school but focus on positivity and goal setting, reminding these students that anything can happen if they believe in themselves and are willing to work hard. I have seen the impact my conversations have made with students in the state of Wisconsin, and I can only imagine the impact I could have on a national level."
Miss Wyoming 2016 Mikaela Show: "The Miss USA Organization is one of the most prestigious programs in America. It empowers women to continue their education through scholarships, allows one to have a voice in our communities and country, and gain a new friend in every state! Having the title of Miss USA would mean getting to represent each of those values and virtues that are integrated into the Miss USA Organization."