Nevada, Georgia or Oklahoma were thought to be on their way to win their first Miss USA title, however, in the end, it was Rhode Island who shone, beat the odds, and walked away with the coveted crown for the first time in history.
Olivia Culpo, 20, 1.66 m-tall, Miss USA 2012, received the crown from the hands of Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA 2011.
Nana Meriweather, Miss Maryland, was the 1st runner-up, Miss Ohio, Audrey Bolte, was the 2nd runner-up, Nevada’s Jade Kelsall was the 3rd runner-up, and Georgia’s Jasmine Wilkins finished as 4th runner-up.
The candidates from Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Jersey, reached the ‘top 10′. The quarter-finalists (top 16) were Misses Tennessee, Michigan, Louisiana, Maine, South Carolina and Arkansas.
The Miss USA 2012 pageant kicked off live at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The two-hour show featured musical performances from Akon and Cobra Starship, along with comments by special correspondents Jeannie Mai from “How Do I Look?” and Kelly Osbourne. Cobra Starship performed their number as the beautiful girls walked up and down the stage in swimwear.
Akon performed his latest single as the top five ladies paraded the stage in evening gowns.
The judges were Marilu Henner, Arsenio Hall, Ali Fedotowsky, Rob Kardashian, Dayana Mendoza, Joe Jonas, Cat Cora, and George Kotsiopoulos.
Special awards’ winners were Miss Iowa, Rebecca Hodge (Miss Congeniality) and Miss Oregon, Alaina Bergsman (Miss Photogenic).
The winner was asked about transgenders competing in pageants, if they deserve to win the crown as much as natural born women. Miss Rhode Island responded: “I accept that because I believe it is a free country.”
It is the first time the public was able to send in questions via Twitter to the contestants.
Culpo will represent the USA in Miss Universe 2012, in December.
In general terms, the show was disappointing. After an amazing 2011 edition, Miss USA decided for a retro edition and walked backwards. It really felt like we were transported back to the 1990′s.
The opening number, for example, was very similar to the one seen in Miss USA 1997 (also a ‘fashion show’ which, by the way, was better executed – see it HERE). It was a fashion walk with outfits far from being ‘fashionable’: clothes truly beyond tacky and outdated.
The pageant’s format adopted in 2011 (Top 16-8-4) is also gone, and back to the traditional 16-10-5. So is the way the 16 quarter-finalists are called – the regional division no longer took place, taking away excitement and originality from the announcement.
It must be said that the group of 16 quarter-finalists was pretty much coherent, though. The main surprises were Maine and Arkansas (the last one chosen by public voting). The biggest upset was the early exclusion of Miss California.
Cobra Starship performed as the 16 paraded in swimsuits. It was a nice number, but again, it felt like a production from the 1990′s.
The ‘top 10′, again, was within the expected, except for Colorado (who resembled the character Janice, from the sitcom FRIENDS – “OH-MY-GOOOOD!”), who might have been placed by Michigan. Other than that, the judges did a great job.
After the gown competition, 3 of the heavy favorites advanced to the final stage of competition, Nevada, Georgia and Ohio, and the group was completed by two girls who truly shined throughout the night and earned their spots hands down: Rhode Island and Maryland. Texas and Oklahoma stayed behind.
There were three positive features in the pageant: the tribute to Dick Clark, who hosted the pageant in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s and passed away earlier this year, the top 5 interacting with pop star Akon, who sang and danced to the sound of “America’s Most Wanted”, and Alyssa Campanella’s touching farewell (“Leila, você é linda!“, which means, “Leila, you are beautiful”, in Portuguese).
Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic once again nailed the presentation, which was expected.
However, all the excitement, emotion, and great music from the 2011 edition, unfortunately were not part of this year’s production.
As for the winner, it looked like the final interview was decisive for the judges. Rhode Island gave an open-minded opinion about a hot topic in pageantry, which is the participation of transgenders, and at that point she gained the judges and the local crowd.
Ohio messed up when saying that “Pretty Woman” was the best example of women portrayed in a positive way in movies, and Nevada, perhaps “the one to beat”, came across a bit too arrogant (or over confident) all night long.
Maryland gave the second best answer, and finished 2nd. Georgia was stunning, but lacked energy on stage. Overall, results were fair, and Miss Rhode Island was a surprising, but deserving winner.
Olivia Culpo is one of the shortest Miss USA winners in history (1.66 m), but her stunning face, radiant smile, and great stage presence, that without mentioning her unquestionable intelligence and wit, might take her far in Miss Universe.
After all, don’t they say that it’s your attitude that determines your altitude?
It’s party time in Rhode Island! Photos Miss Universe L.P., LLLP