A Heavenly Image

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Miss Teen USA 2020: Ki’ilani Arruda

Hawaii’s Island Girl, Ki’ilani (meaning heavenly image) Arruda, lives up to her namesake by capturing the crown of Miss Teen USA 2020


Miss Teen USA was welcomed back to the stage in the COVID-19 friendly environment of the Graceland soundstage in Memphis, Tennessee. Hosted by Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst and television sports personality and Miss Teen USA 2005 Allie LaForce, the fifty-one teen representatives of Miss Teen USA would vie for the crown before a socially distanced live audience, while also enjoying the worldwide audience during the live-streamed celebration.

With the Miss Teen USA state representative introductions complete, the Top 16 finalists were announced: Miss Teen USA Arizona Molly Schwanz, Miss Teen USA North Carolina Peyton Brown, Miss Teen USA California Zoe Hunt, Miss Teen USA Oregon Shayla Montgomery, Miss Teen USA Nebraska Audrey Eckert, Miss Teen USA Louisiana Sydney Taylor, Miss Teen USA South Carolina Gracen Grainger, Miss Teen USA Ohio Lily McLaughlin, Miss Teen USA Georgia Shayla Jackson, Miss Teen USA Hawaii Ki’ilani Arruda, Miss Teen USA Arkansas Anna Hay, Miss Teen USA New Jersey Jaelynn Polanco, Miss Teen USA Oklahoma Danika Christopherson, Miss Teen USA Tennessee Ansley Ecker, and Miss Teen USA Maine Grace Morey. By the end of the evening, one of these teens would wear the crown of Miss Teen USA 2020.

The Top 16 Miss Teen USA finalists would compete on-stage in both the Activewear and Evening Gown competitions. High energy and up-tempo, the Activewear Competition showcased each contestant’s goal of a healthy lifestyle. Fan favorite, Evening Gown, was poised and graceful with each delegate receiving a warm and appreciative acknowledgment from the studio audience. Activewear and Evening Gown would bring the Miss Teen USA Pageant to the Top 5 finalists representing the states of Georgia, Oregon, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Hawaii.

These Top 5 Miss Teen USA state titleholders, representing the ambitious and empowered teens of today, would advance to the Final Question phase. Displaying a knowledge of today’s current events and social concerns, each delegate embodied the USA’s hope for tomorrow while addressing such topics as: whether or not distance learning can be effective despite the lack of in-person engagement, what law would they like to see enacted within their home state, what one book would be a recommended read for all teens, should a college education be free for all Americans, and what has the worldwide pandemic taught them about life. Even though many adults struggle to answer these questions, each of the teens gave a heartfelt and educated response. As the Miss Teen USA 2020 Pageant was nearing the crowning moment, Miss Teen USA Washington Marianne Batista was recognized by her peers as Miss Congeniality.

Miss Teen USA 2020 was ready for her crowning, beginning with 4th Runner-Up Louisiana, 3rd Runner-Up Nebraska, and 2nd Runner-Up Georgia. Socially distanced on-stage the final two anxiously awaited the selection committee’s decision. With the announcement of Miss Teen USA 2020 as 1st Runner-Up Oregon, Ki’ilani Arruda of Hawaii captured the crown of Miss Teen USA 2020. Ho’omaika’i ‘ana Ki’ilani Arruda, Miss Teen USA 2020!


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