Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch, of Mississippi, enjoyed some Southern hospitality as she captured the Miss USA crown in Memphis
The Miss USA Pageant, after a year’s long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was welcomed back to center stage in a presentation of beauty, intelligence, and social activism. Broadcast live from Graceland Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, the socially distanced audience was treated to the true Southern hospitality of Memphis and Elvis Presley’s stunning home of Graceland. The pageant was hosted by Emmy nominated Akbar Gbaja-Biamila and sports television personality and Miss Teen USA 2005 Allie LaForce. The wait for Miss USA 2020 was finally over and the time had come to meet the 51 diverse state titleholders and crown Miss USA 2020.
Following the opening production and state delegate introductions, the Top 16 finalists were announced: Miss New Jersey USA Gina Mellish, Miss Idaho USA Kim Layne, Miss Alabama USA Kelly Hutchinson, Miss Louisiana USA Mariah Clayton, Miss Mississippi USA Asya Branch, Miss Missouri USA Megan Kelly, Miss Ohio USA Stephanie Miranda, Miss District of Columbia USA Cierra Jackson, Miss Oklahoma USA Mariah Davis, Miss Indiana USA Alexis Lete, Miss New York USA Andreia Gibau, Miss Georgia USA Alyssa Beasley, Miss California USA Allyshia Gupta, Miss Illinois USA Olivia Pura, Miss Nevada USA Victoria Olona, and Miss Hawaii USA Samantha Neyland. The competition for the crown of Miss USA was officially underway.
The first on-stage competition, Swimsuit, showcased their commitment to a fit and healthy lifestyle, something many found difficult amidst the worldwide pandemic. Narrowing the field from the initial sixteen finalists, a Top 10 consisted of representatives from the following Miss USA states: Mississippi, Illinois, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Alabama, California, Indiana, Idaho, New York, and New Jersey.
Fan favorite, Evening Gown, always glamorous and poised, followed Swimsuit and would once again reduce the finalists from ten to the Top 5 of Miss Oklahoma USA, Miss Mississippi USA, Miss Indiana USA, Miss Idaho USA, and Miss Alabama USA.
Although the delegates, along with the rest of the country and world had spent months socially distanced, it did not mean they were unaware of current events or newsworthy headlines. Paraphrased, the Final Question Round would address such topics as whether an App selling an individual’s private information to third parties would influence the decision to download it, what must be done to bring our nation together, how to fix the concern that only one-third of Americans could pass the Citizenship test, agree or disagree with the discussion of police reform, and whether social media platforms have a responsibility to fact-check posts. The questions, while thought provoking, were extremely timely and apropos.
If the final question did not induce enough anxiety for the delegates and audience, one more thought-provoking competition awaited the Top 5 in the Topical Discussion phase and would decide the crown of Miss USA 2020. What would the discussion address and how succinctly would the finalist convey her views? The topics were Voter Suppression, Gun Laws, Climate Change, Mental Health Reform, and Prison Reform. Whether or not someone agreed with a particular view, the audience cheered each delegate’s discussion and the ability to put into words what many struggle with.
Miss USA had returned to center stage, and the stage was set for the crowning of Miss USA 2020 following the Final Look. With the completion of the competition, the finalists and court of Miss USA 2020 was proclaimed: Fourth Runner-Up Miss Alabama USA, Third Runner-Up Miss Indiana USA, Second Runner-Up Miss Oklahoma USA, and First Runner-Up Miss Idaho USA, as Asya Branch of Mississippi was crowned Miss USA 2020.
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