Onstage question is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of competition – both for contestants and for viewers. This year’s Miss America questions definitely lived up to that expectation, featuring several politically-focused questions that were sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats. Let’s take a look at how the Top 7 contestants handled their questions.
Top 7 Onstage Questions and Answers from Miss America 2017
7. Miss South Carolina 2016, Rachel Wyatt
Question: “The immigration debate rages on: Building a wall along the Mexico border, establishing sanctuary cities, deporting 11 million undocumented people. Do you believe our country has an immigration problem?” (Read: Pageant Question About Immigration)
Answer: “You know, we certainly do. And I myself am a quarter Japanese. My great-grandfather is an immigrant, and I think that America really is a nation built on immigrants and so this is an issue that we have to come to a resolution on and be welcoming to others to come into this nation of freedom.”
At first, Rachel Wyatt said she did think there was an immigration problem, but she ends her answer with a more clear explanation of her thoughts. She took a side and answered the question head on, which definitely contributed to her 1st Runner-up finish.
6. Miss Mississippi 2016, Laura Lee Lewis
Question: “Miss America 1989, Gretchen Carlson, just accepted a $20 million settlement from Fox News for her sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes. Fox paid. Ailes walked. What message does this send?”
Answer: “This sends a message that we have so much further to go with equality in the workforce. Women are just as equal as men in the workforce and I think — it’s 2016, guys. We’ve got to focus on this and have equality in the workforce. And when we start focusing on that, it’s going to be great.”
Laura Lee Lewis came up short with this answer. Although she recognizes the most basic issue at hand, she doesn’t elaborate and her answer seems repetitive. With a very bland ending (“It’s going to be great”), Laura Lee ended her answer non-memorably and underdeveloped. However, she did end up snagging the 4th Runner-up spot at the end of the night.
5. Miss Washington 2016, Alicia Cooper
Question: “49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has ignited a national debate by refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. Do you sit with him or stand against him?” (Read: Pageant Question About Colin Kaepernick)
Answer: “The first thing I want to say is we need to focus on how important the Black Lives Matter issue is; all lives matter in this situation. I don’t necessarily support the fact that he sat out, but I do respect that he took a knee and that people are joining in. Because we need to focus on the resolution to this problem, and we need to come together as a nation to have everyone feel equal in our society.”
Alicia Cooper got right to the point and demonstrated her knowledge of the situation asked about beautifully. She addresses both sides of the issue but does not avoid stating her own personal opinion. This clear answer helped her to place 3rd Runner-up.
4. Miss Maryland 2016, Hannah Brewer
Question: “Journalists are calling out Matt Lauer for aggressively grilling Hillary Clinton while letting Donald Trump slide. Others are declaring a liberal media bias. How would you grade the media on their election coverage?”
Answer: “I think it’s been very — I think it’s been very equal to both parties. I think both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have received a lot of criticism for the way that they’re going about this campaign, and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I think that we need to support both of these people. They are trying to make our country a better place and I support them both.”
Although Hannah Brewer technically did answer the question, her answer left something to be desired. Perhaps out of nerves, Hannah seemed to avoid voicing an actual opinion and instead took the safe route of explaining things as equal. By doing so, she made her answer seem plain. She also failed to target the media specifically, which is what the question was asking for.
3. Miss New York 2016, Camille Sims
Question: “Donald J. Trump. What do you think of him? You have 20 seconds, go.”
Answer: ” *laughs* I think that he’s a bright reminder of how our country needs to come together. If you don’t agree with his message, then it’s time to decide where you stand in this debate. As Americans, we need to make sure that we come together, represent what it means to be American — which is celebrating all people from all backgrounds whether you’re an immigrant, or a Native American, or an African American, or an Asian American.”
Camille Sims ran out of time answering this question, so it is impossible to know how she would have wrapped it up if allowed to continue. However, for being asked arguably the most difficult (and highly criticized) question of the night, she handled her answer with poise and composure. Although she doesn’t come straight out and say whether or not SHE agrees with Donald Trump’s message, she encourages Americans to find their own place in the political debate, which, especially during an election year, is extremely important. This solid answer helped Camille place 2nd Runner-up.
2. Miss Arkansas 2016 (and our Miss America 2017), Savvy Shields
Question: “Hillary Rodham Clinton. What do you think?”
Answer: ” *laughs* Sorry, that’s kind of funny. If you’re trying to be leader of the free world, everything you say and do matters, and all of your actions are held to a higher standard. And unfortunately, the media does love to sensationalize everything, and it’s hard to tell what is truth and what is truly scandal. I think going back at what my previous contestant said, both of these contestants have done a great job. Er, both of these candidates have done a great job in competing, but they also need to watch what they’re doing, and – ”
Tackling the sister question to the one asked to Camille Sims before her, Savvy Shields had a bit of a rough time. She flubbed the word “candidates” (instead calling them contestants) and was cut off by the 20-second time limit. However, when it’s all said and done, 20 seconds is a very short amount of time to voice an opinion about a political candidate (some believing contestants should not be asked to voice such opinions publicly at all). Savvy made her answer work by using her fun and bubbly personality. Although she could have dove deeper into the question, her answer was enough to seal the deal on the Miss America crown!
1. Miss Texas 2016, Caroline Carothers
Question: “This is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. What is one thing the new president should do to protect us?” (Read: Pageant Question About Presidential Candidates)
Answer: “Yes, 15 years ago today we were attacked, and that is very unfortunate. But one thing that our new president needs to realize is that one thing about being strong with this country is learning when and where to be cautious. And I believe that if our new president understands that and learns that, then we will be in a better place and we’ll be much safer as a nation.”
Caroline Carothers left something to be desired with this answer. Caution, although important in any dangerous situation, is only a small part (and a vague one) of the vast knowledge and power a president should possess and utilize. Caution alone does not create safety, especially on a nationwide scale.
Overall, the Top 7 contestants did an impressive job handling a set of questions focused heavily on hard-hitting, controversial issues. Although onstage question is a scary part of pageants for many contestants, staying poised and articulate is the key to nailing any answer.
Through the years, certain questions become popular to ask as on-stage questions. If you’re looking for more to read, check out this article! (Read: Top 10 Onstage Questions of 2015)