On May 14th, Kára McCullough, Miss District of Columbia USA 2017 was crowned Miss USA 2017. This makes for back-to-back wins for the District of Columbia. Kára was crowned by the outgoing Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, who won the title as Miss District of Columbia USA 2016.
The competition was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The results come after over a week full of events for the state titleholders. These events included photoshoots, appearances, rehearsals, and the preliminary competition.
The contestants competed in a preliminary competition featuring an introduction, swimsuit, and evening gown phases. The contestants also had a private interview with the judges. The 10 highest scoring contestants went on to compete on the televised final night of competition on FOX.
(Miss New Hampshire USA and Miss Washington USA before their private interviews with the judges. Photo: Pageant Update.)
The beginning of show saw a parade of the contestants. Unlike past years, the contestants gave no introductions. They walked down the stage while the announcer called their state. Micheal Jackson One from Cirque Du Soleil preformed a routine while “Black or White” played in the background. They song is one of the late singer’s greatest hits and celebrated the diversity of this year’s contestants.
“And it is such an honor to share the stage with these ladies tonight,” said host Julianne Hough. “Now more than ever it is important to shine a light on strong, compassionate, and talented women who can serve as powerful role models.”
“They lovin you over there,” said co-host Terrence J. “I’d like to say about role models, it’s so important, and on this stage tonight, we have entrepreneurs, law students, college athletes, social activists, medical professionals, and if that’s not enough, one is even a scientist with the United States Nuclear Commission.”
After a Mother’s Day Tribute, the Top 10 were announced. The lucky ladies included: Miss Alaska USA Alyssa London, Miss California USA India Williams, Miss District of Columbia USA Kára McCullough, Miss Illinois USA Whitney Wandland, Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould, Miss Missouri USA Bayleigh Dayton, Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg, Miss New York USA Hannah Lopa, Miss South Carolina USA Megan Gordon, and Miss Tennessee USA Allee-Sutton Hethcoat.
After each contestant was announced, a video played giving the audience more insight into each of the women’s lives. These videos further showed the diversity among the contestants.
“To me, Miss USA represents resilience and strength,” said Bayleigh Dayton, the first African-American Miss Missouri USA, in her video. “Competing in Miss USA was about proving to myself that no situation would ever define me.”
After a few commercials, the competition resumed. The Top 10 strutted their stuff in swimsuit. Contestants came onstage in groups of three. As each state was called, the contestant walked the long runway and posed for the judges.
After swimsuit, the judges for the night were introduced. This gave the Top 10 a chance to change into their evening gowns. The judges for the final night of competition were Carson Kressley, Janet Mock, Nancy Lublin, Halima Aden, Jeannie Mai, and Brook Lee.
Brett Eliderge opened the evening gown phase with his latest song “Long Way Around.” The contestants came onstage in two groups of five. Similar to swimsuit, as each contestant was called they walked the very long runway.
Eliderge came back onstage to finish the song during the parade of the Top 10 in their evening gown. This closed the first round of the competition. After another Mother’s Day tribute, the Top 5 were announced. Making the cut were Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould, Miss Illinois USA Whitney Wandland, Miss South Carolina USA Megan Gordon, Miss District of Columbia USA Kára McCullough, and Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg.
After another commercial break, the five contestants competed in onstage question. The questions were chosen by a media company called The Skim. They have an e-newsletter read by millions every day. The questions were designed to “encourage the contestants in a meaningful dialogue” according to host Julianne Hough. See the answers here.
After a very tense few minutes, the final three were chosen. Miss District of Columbia USA Kára McCullough, Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould, and Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg moved on the last round of competition. A final onstage question.
Each contestant was asked the same question and given 45 seconds to respond. As each contestant answer, the others wore sound-proof headphones so they could not hear the question before it was their turn. The question was, “What do you consider feminism to be and do you consider yourself a feminist?”
After answering the question and another commercial break the Top 3 took to the stage for the “final look.” Superstar Pitbull preformed his latest song “Options” featuring Stephen Marley.
When Marley came onstage, he escorted Miss District of Columbia USA Kára McCullough down the runaway followed by Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould and Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg.
After another commercial break, it was time to crown the winner. But first, the reigning Miss USA 2016 Deshuana Barber had her final walk. Deshauna lost her mother to lung cancer three months after she was crowned Miss USA 2016.
“This day is very hard,” she said in the farewell video that played before her final walk. “She was my best friend and I’m happy that I won Miss USA and she was able to see that.”
Deshauna has a beautiful natural Afro as did her mother. For her final walk, she wore her hair natural to pay tribute to her mother.
“She really wanted me to wear my Afro onstage,” Deshauna said. “So today, during my final walk, I will be wearing my Afro as a tribute to her. So mom this is for you.”
After a little over an hour of finals competition, it was time to crown the winner.
Second runner-up went to Miss Minnesota USA Meridith Gould. The first runner-up who will assume the title if the newly crowned Miss USA wins the title of Miss Universe or is unable to fulfill her duties as a national titleholder went to Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg.
Miss District of Columbia USA 2017 was crowned the new Miss USA 2017. She will go on to compete at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant.
There were additional awards announced after the pageant. There was a tie for Miss Congeniality between Miss Wyoming USA Mikaela Shaw and Miss Missouri USA Bayleigh Dayton
The winner for Miss Photogenic has yet to be announced.