The Miss USA pageant, which aired last night on the Reelz channel after being dropped by NBC and Univision, did its almighty best to distance itself from pageant owner Donald Trump’s incendiary blatherings regarding Mexican immigrants—and indeed, from Trump himself, who did not attend the competition in Baton Rouge, LA.
While the pageant did not go so far as to (gasp) actually crown a Mexican-American contestant—Miss Texas Ylianna Guerra, who had previously called Trump’s remarks “unfortunate” and emphasized that she was “very proud” of her Mexican heritage, was first runner-up—the very blonde winner, Miss Oklahoma Olivia Jordan (also seen in Hot Tub Time Machine 2!), named “race relations” in the interview round as the biggest issue currently faced by America, and picked Harriet Tubman as the woman she’d put on the $10 bill.
Latina contestants like Natasha Martinez, Miss California, were highlighted in a montage focusing on contestants’ “cultural backgrounds”; Martinez said, “I come from a mixed Latino family. My mother is an immigrant from Nicaragua and my dad is third generation Mexican.” A low point in the diversity parade came when Miss Nevada, Brittany McGowen, froze up after being asked how she would fix race relations in the U.S.
“Be specific,” the interviewer instructed her.
What I would do to improve race relations in the US is get more races grouped together and be able to be with each other in a...in a non...I think what we need to do is bring...[nervous laugh] we need to be more accepting of each other and we need to bring people together, that’s what I think we need to do.
Although poor Miss Nevada also tripped in the evening gown portion, she did still make the top five, somehow. Along with [from left] Maryland, Rhode Island, Texas, and Oklahoma:
Original hosts Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts dropped out last week in light of Trump’s comments, alongside backstage host Jeannie Mai, judge Emmitt Smith and performer Flo Rida. It wasn’t too hard to find less scrupulous replacements, apparently: Burke and Roberts were replaced by daytime TV presenter Todd Newton and former Miss Wisconsin USA Alex Wehrley, while OK! TV host Julie Alexandria filled in backstage. Adley Stump, Travis Garland and Stefano Langone, none of whom I have heard of, attempted to fill Flo Rida’s shoes as contestants danced in gray diapers behind them.
The outfits in general seemed to be on the low end of the already questionable pageant gear spectrum—here are some contestants wearing actual handkerchiefs:
That’s not to say matters improved when the contestants dressed themselves. Here is Miss Michigan, Rashontae Wawrzyniak, in a lace bell-sleeved atrocity:
Miss Maryland Mame Adjei did better with this sheer black number, but the proportions are still pretty weird:
Nothing really beats winner Olivia Jordan’s evening look, though, a horribly riveting hot pink Scarlett O’Hara Barbie gown:
The Miss USA pageant has lived under the shadow of a sleazy reputation for years now, but it wasn’t until the pageant’s owner declared all Mexican immigrants “rapists” that networks and celebrities actually began to distance themselves. The contestants themselves, however, seem perfectly content to continue milking this platform for as long as it stands. Have fun with the Reelz CEO, Olivia!
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Images via Getty.