It is time to announce the contestants that I feel will be contenders at the Miss America pageant this year. These are my initial Top 20 selections from which I will choose and rank my 15 finalists for tomorrow’s pageant.
Regional Representatives — to make sure I am not unfairly favoring one part of the country over the other, I choose contestants that represent at least 10 different regions of the country. I generally hold these contestants in higher regard that any “wild card” contestants who are also from the same region. This year, due to my late start, I have the benefit of knowing the preliminary winners.
Here are my ten regional reps: Miss Mississippi (South), Miss Oklahoma (Lower Midwest), Miss Minnesota (Upper Midwest), Miss New Hampshire (Northeast), Miss Washington (Pacific Northwest), Miss West Virginia (Psuedo South), Miss Indiana (Rust Belt), Miss California (Central California), Miss Utah (West), and Miss Texas (Texas).
And my ten wildcard contestants are: Miss Georgia, Miss New Jersey, Miss Delaware, Miss Tennessee, Miss North Carolina, Miss Ohio, Miss Missouri, Miss Maryland, Miss Connecticut, and Miss South Carolina.
I should temper expectations by recalling that last year, the contestant crowned Miss America was absent from my original Top 20. She did not even have the courtesy to send me a text message in advance letting me know she was going to win. And even if she had, I would not have believed her because she was a tap dancer. A tap dancer had never won Miss America. Until last year.
I watched the pageant and felt she was an excellent choice for Miss America. I then kicked myself.
I also whiffed on Miss America in 2011. Let’s not talk about that.
This year, the only thing I will be kicking is kicking back a tall, cold glass of victory when the ticker tape falls tomorrow night. Unlike last year, this is not a pageant wrought with parity. Don’t get me wrong, all the girls are quality contestants. But this year, there are several ladies that are a cut above the rest. That is why I am pretty confident that tomorrow’s winner will come from the group listed above (and hopefully my chosen winner).
And last year I actually did surprisingly well in picking the finalists, except for overlooking the girl who actually WON it. A very minor detail.
Here’s to even better luck this year.
I have posted some pageant-related links below. Now I must mention some of the noteworthy women who I didn’t pick for my Top 20. One is Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, who made headlines this week by becoming the first ever contestant to compete at Miss America with visible tattoos. If that does not make her interesting enough, she is also in the army and speaks Chinese. And as any heterosexual man would tell you, she is super attractive. However, she did not make my list for one simple reason. Her talent was archery, and the Miss America Organization disallowed her from using a bow onstage. So, she changed her talent to singing at the last minute. Now, I am 100% impressed with this young lady, and would love nothing more than to see her buck the odds and suddenly become a pageant-winning singer overnight. I just don’t see it happening. Nothing is more important at Miss America than talent, and barring a miracle, she just ain’t got it.
Also, I’ve learned from past experience to stay away from contestants who generate controversy prior to the pageant, as it never bodes well for their chances. But if this girl was to win the pageant tomorrow, it would be the story of the year. And I would gladly, gladly eat crow to see it happen.
Another girl who didn’t make the cut is the heartwarming story of Miss Iowa, Nicole Kelly, who is competing despite having only one arm. As with Miss Kansas, I am rooting for her big time, and would love to see her beat the odds and win. But this isn’t my first rodeo. Movie-script stories rarely have happy endings at Miss America. It is survival of the fittest out there.
I actually feel kind of bad that this next girl did not make my list. Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, whose talent is baton twirling, was warming up for her routine this week when — prepare to grimace — she tore her ACL. As in the type of injury that would immediately end any NFL player’s season. Her kneecap was flipped around on the side of her knee. Awful, hideous injury. Clearly, her pageant was over. Right? No. Oh no. She goes to an orthopedic surgeon who twisted her kneecap back into place and fits her with a brace. She then get back on the stage, brace and all, and proceeds to compete in the pageant by twirling 3 batons at once! Hobbling around with a torn ACL! You can’t make this up. And apparently did it well enough to win a preliminary talent award. Now that’s damn impressive. She also lost her little sister in a 4-wheeler accident, which she said was a pain far worse than the ruptured knee ligaments. Another girl I would love, love, love to see win it. But let’s not forget she has a torn ACL. I don’t see how she can even walk on the stage. If she was on my fantasy football team, she would be listed as “doubtful.” So to call her a long-shot would be sugar-coating it. That’s why she didn’t make the list.
With that said, I would not be surprised if Miss Florida made the Final 15 since she was a preliminary winner. Also, I think she completed her other rounds before the injury happened. I cringe at the thought of having to watch her grit out a swimsuit competition with a torn ACL. Hopefully, the pageant judges will spare us that sight by finding her a nice comfortable place to sit with the other 37 non-finalists.
The last girl I would like to mention who did not make my list is Miss New York Nina Davuluri. It is rare for a state to miss the finals the year after it wins. And I think Miss New York is a perfectly fine contestant with solid credentials. The problem is that her talent is “classical Bollywood fusion.” If she can pull that off, more power to her. I just don’t see it happening.
As a final comment I would like to make a special shout-out to all the contestants from the Northeast region. The Northeast, which is usually one of the weaker regions, produced by far its finest class since I started following the pageant. I could see almost all of the girls from that region doing very well. Until last year, a girl from the Northeast had not won the pageant since Vanessa Williams won it in 1984. I could easily see two in a row. It was hard to pick a regional representative, but I eventually settled on Miss New Hampshire as the only preliminary winner. I must say, however, that Miss Delaware had the best intro video I’ve ever seen in my several years of watching the pageant. A+++!
I can’t wait til the lights go down in Atlantic City tomorrow night!
- Contestant Intro Videos
- Miss America contestant shows her tattoos (usatoday.com)
- Mississippi, New Hampshire win Miss America prelim (boston.com)
- Oklahoma, Minn. Win 2nd Night Miss America Prelims – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)
- Ga., Fla. Win 3rd night Miss America prelims (sacbee.com)
- OCU student wins swimsuit competition, prepares for Miss America (kfor.com)
- Fans Get To Know Miss America Contestants Through Social Media (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Iowa’s Miss America hopeful advocates for disabled (cnsnews.com)
- Mac Duggal dresses shine at Miss America 2014 (macduggalblog.com)