Miss America Recap

Last Sunday’s Miss America pageant was one for the ages.  That was probably as much drama and suspense as I’ve ever seen in the pageant.

Now it’s time to toot my own horn a little about how everything unfolded exactly how I envisioned.  Well, maybe not exactly, but close enough.

For the second straight year, a Miss New York won the pageant.  And for a second straight year, Miss New York was not in my Top 15 finalist picks (or even my Top 20).  Naysayers out there might say I blew it again.  I say phooey to that.  Just read this prophetic passage I wrote on the eve of the pageant:

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.

Now if that’s not calling it, I don’t know what is.  The Northeast had more contestants in the Top 10 (3) than any other region.

And, I carefully explained why I didn’t choose Miss New York as one of my finalists.  It was not because I didn’t think she had potential.  I just didn’t think her Bollywood dance would go over well at an American pageant.

So consider that criticism dismissed.

Overall, I feel like my picks did well this year.  Once again, I did not pick the winner but at least my #1 pick made it to the finals (unlike last year).  In fact, Miss Oklahoma came very close to winning it — she finished 3rd.  That makes the 3rd time in the last 4 years that the contestant I chose to win it all has finished in the Top 3.  Not a bad track record if you ask me.  Unfortunately, none of them took home the crown.

My #2 pick, Miss Texas, also finished in the Top 10, and probably would have made the Top 5 if she had not forgotten the words to her song!  I better not say anything bad about her because she lives here in Dallas and is a law student, so it’s possible that our paths might cross in the future.

My #3 pick, Miss Mississippi, made the Top 15.  I was shocked that she got knocked out after the swimsuit competition considering she won the preliminary swimsuit award.  Not sure what happened there.

Eight of the Top 15 finalists were on my finals list.  Miss Connecticut, who finished in the Top 10, was also on my initial list of 20.  I also explained why I did not choose Miss Florida or Miss Kansas.  Then Miss Florida passed me the salt and Miss Kansas passed me the pepper.  The show they put on was incredible.

For someone who “learned how to sing opera on YouTube” shortly before the pageant, Miss Kansas had a pretty amazing voice.

And we might as well call Miss Florida the Adrian Peterson of pageantry.  Not only did she grit out a swimsuit competition on an torn ACL (and advanced), she also powered through a evening gown competition (and advanced), and a talent competition that required her to spin and twirl while juggling three batons at once (and advanced).  I got some serious chills while watching her talent.  That was the moment when I felt like the pageant was over, and everyone else was playing for 2nd place.  What Miss Florida did on Sunday night was one of finest performances I’ve ever seen in a competitive event.  Ironically, the only thing that tripped her up was the one thing that did not require her to use her knee at all — the onstage question.

Last year, Mallory Hagan took the pageant by storm and claimed a decisive victory.  This year, the pageant turned into a BCS poll.  You could make the case for Miss Florida, Miss Oklahoma, Miss Maryland, Miss Connecticut, or Miss New York.  I think all five deserved the crown.  All five brought their A+ game.  But sadly, only one could win.  It was a tough call.

I have to hand it to Miss New York.  I felt like she won the swimsuit and evening gown competitions.  Based on her performance in those phases alone, she deserved to win.  With that said, she would not have been my choice.  My vote would have gone to Miss Oklahoma, because I felt like she would make the best Miss America all along and her impeccable performance confirmed my feelings.  My second choice would have been Miss Florida because she deserved it the most.  Although I originally wasn’t convinced she would make a good Miss America, after seeing her perform I was convinced she wanted it the most and that no one with that kind of heart could be anything but a good representative for our country.  My third choice would probably have been Miss Maryland, because I felt she was a solid overall contestant and her talent performance was exceptional.  It would have been tough to choose between Miss Connecticut or New York, but I feel Miss Connecticut would have made the better Miss America due to her immensely charming personality.

There is usually a moment in every Miss America talent competition when the winner emerges.  You immediately realize that what your seeing is about to played and replayed on every news network that evening, above the headline “Miss X _________ crowned Miss America.”  It happened in 2009, when Katie Stam sang Via Dolorosa.  It happened in 2010, when Caressa Cameron belted out Grammy-quality notes.  It happened in 2011, when Teresa Scanlan set the piano on fire.  It happened in 2012, when Laura Kaeppler delivered a spell-bounding rendition of “Il Bacio.”  And it happened last year, when Mallory Hagan took the pageant by storm with her tap dance routine.

I did not feel that at all when Miss New York performed.  At no point during her dance did I envision her winning Miss America.  It wasn’t that the dance had a distinctly foreign flavor — it just didn’t impress me.  Too many hand movements, not enough footwork.  Seemed like something anyone could do given enough practice.

On the other hand, there were moments in Miss Oklahoma’s, Miss Maryland’s, and Miss Connecticut’s performances where I felt like the stars had aligned for them.  And of course Miss Florida’s performance was off the charts.  But none of those girls did as well as Miss New York in the swimsuit or evening gown competitions.

Now a lot has been written lately about the hurtful remarks that have been directed at Nina Davuluri on social media.  Obviously there are idiots out there.  Although I personally excluded her from consideration due to the fact she was performing a Bollywood dance, I think we should be careful before labeling something un-American.  After all, how is a Bollywood dance any more “un-American” than the Irish riverdance that Miss Connecticut performed?  Or the Italian opera song that Miss Kansas sang?  There is a fine line between nationalism and racism.

The bottom line is, the dance just wasn’t done well enough for my tastes.  Regardless, I still feel that Nina Davuluri was a deserving winner based on the other phases of the competition and have high hopes that she will make a fine Miss America.

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