It’s a common question that every pageant girl knows or should know the answer to: “What’s the difference between Miss America and Miss USA?” Many outside the pageant community would see the two systems as one in the same.
During Monday’s football championship when No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 1 Notre Dame, Katherine Webb’s, Miss Alabama USA, name was the center of controversy started by ESPN anchor Brent Musburger. Webb was mistaken for a Miss America representative rather than a USA.
Many of Webb’s fans and girls from the pageant world’s comments blew up on social media outlets for the blunder. Both Musburger and Webb apologized for the confusion. Webb even apologized to Anna Bryan, Miss Alabama, who is in Las Vegas this week for the Miss America competition.
So what is all the confusion about? What really is the difference between Miss America and Miss USA? Two years ago when a provocative photo of Fadil Berisha’s bedroom shots were released, 1989 Miss America Gretchen Carlson set out to explain the difference.
Miss USA Explains Miss America
Carlson invited the 2004 Miss USA Shandi Finnessey onto “Fox & Friends” to explain. “Miss USA girls want to grow up to be Victoria Secret models, and Miss America girls want to be doctors and lawyers,” Finnessey said.
Miss USA contestants are judged based on the ability to smile and speak the best. The system is more about appearance. The winner of Miss USA goes on to compete for Miss Universe. It was founded in 1952 by Catalins Swimsuits as a promotional tool.
Miss America Judge Explains Miss USA
On the other hand, Miss America was founded in 1921 as a scholarship program. Contestants are judged on their talents and their ability to think.
One of the Miss America 2013 judges went onto to say that Miss USA girls only compete in the system after they have found out they do not have what it takes to be Miss America. “These young women [of Miss America] have to have their community service platforms, they have to work on their talent and they have to be in school.” The Miss America system focuses on its contestants who can make the country a better place and it is not about pretending and glamour.
“They are the doers, the planners and big picture thinkers who will define America’s tomorrow,” a story in Marie Claire’s January issue said.