pageantry interview ● nana meriwether
Next in Line
As she watched Olivia Culpo’s
crowning moment as Miss
Universe, Nana Meriwether
realized that it was her time
to step up and shine as the
next Miss USA
T he Miss Universe Pageant was obviously an in-
credible milestone for fans in the United States,
as it marked the ﬁrst time in 15 years that an
American woman took home the biggest crown
from the grandest stage. But lost in the hubbub
of patriotic pride and the coming year of celebratory bliss is
that on that one particular holiday season evening, just six
days before Christmas, Olivia Culpo wasn’t the only young
lady receiving the gift of a lifetime. On the other side of the
country, Miss Maryland USA Nana Meriwether also real-
ized just how magnanimous Olivia’s win was.
Six months earlier, in front of a live audience of thou-
sands and with a TV viewership of millions, Nana’s name
was called as the ﬁrst runner-up at the 2012 Miss USA
Pageant in Las Vegas. And as she watched Olivia’s joyous
and tearful reaction, Nana suddenly realized that she was
now Miss USA. With a shortened reign ahead of her, Nana
knows that she’s going to need to make her efforts count.
Pageantry magazine: Looking back, not only
around Christmas time, but January 9th, when did
it finally hit you that you were the new Miss USA?
Nana Meriwether: It hit me on December 19th, when
our former Miss USA Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe. I
was living in New York City and I went to a restaurant with
a couple of friends to watch the Miss Universe pageant. It
was my friend’s restaurant and we made him turn off the
Knicks game to watch Miss Universe. By the end of the
night, the entire restaurant was into and cheering Olivia on.
Then everyone around me was like, “Wait, does that make
you Miss USA?” So it was a great Christmas gift, and it was
such a surprise because it hasn’t happened in 15 years.
And then into the New Year, I was crowned Miss USA
by Donald Trump and I don’t think any Miss USA has ever
been crowned by the boss.
PM: It’s a very unique situation that you’re in, and
you’ve just alluded to it. This isn’t something that hap-
pens every day.
NM: It’s not, and it literally happened overnight. I don’t
think a lot of people understand what being Miss USA
means beyond the title. It’s a full-time job, as you have stuff
going on Monday through Friday from 9-5, whether it’s in
the ofﬁces here in Midtown or you’re out at interviews or
events. Then there’s the stuff in the evenings—red carpets,
charity events, galas—and you’re also working on week-
ends. You have a very busy schedule and it takes a very spe-
cial kind of woman. I’ve sought advice from former
titleholders, and Olivia has helped me out. It’s such a bless-
ing to be where I am, but it’s a lot of hard work.
PM: As the stars aligned, you were already in New
York, so it was just the packing of a few suitcases and
NM: I took a cab over here with a couple suitcases, and
now I live in Midtown, which isn’t too far from where I
was living. It’s a new neighborhood—more New York with
the tall buildings and the businessmen walking around