This Is the Difference Between Miss USA and Miss America
If you're confused about the crown, you're not alone.
It’s easy to get Miss USA and Miss America confused. After all, they’re both famed beauty pageant competitions offering similar sashes and crowns that representatives from each of the 50 states vie for. However, Miss America and Miss USA are two separate organizations with many differences between them.
The oldest of the two, Miss America, was started in 1921 as a way to help attract visitors to Atlantic City, New Jersey, beyond the traditional summer season. Miss USA, on the other hand, was a breakaway pageant hosted by Miss America’s former swimsuit sponsor in 1952, after the 1951 Miss America winner refused to pose in a swimsuit during her reign.
Today, the pageants also have different scoring priorities. The Miss America pageant includes a scoring system that is based largely on talent, whereas Miss USA doesn’t include a talent portion at all. And while both pageants once had swimsuit and evening gown portions, the Miss America Organization eliminated those two competitions in 2018. Instead, in 2019, Miss America contestants will participate in live interactive sessions with the judges and will have more opportunities to discuss their chosen “social impact initiatives.”
The age requirements for each pageant vary slightly, as well. Miss America allows women ages 17 to 25 to compete and Miss USA allows competitors ages 18 to 28. And while the road ends with Miss America, Miss USA is part of a larger circuit where winners go on to compete worldwide in the Miss Universe pageant.
As far as compensation goes, both pageants include hefty prizes. Miss America offers the winner a six-figure salary during the course of her reign, as well as scholarships of up to $50,000 (these prizes change from year to year). Miss USA also offers winners a year-long salary, a year of paid living expenses, a luxury apartment in New York City, and styling by the Miss Universe Organization fashion stylist.
During their reigns, both Miss America and Miss USA are required to make various public appearances, from charity events to red carpets and movie premieres. Both queens are also responsible for choosing a specific platform to support and advance throughout the year.
Unlike the non-profit Miss America Organization, the Miss USA Organization is for-profit. It was owned by President Donald Trump until 2015. After a 12-year-partnership, NBC Universal cut ties with Trump and the Miss USA pageant that year due to his controversial remarks regarding immigration during his presidential campaign. Trump then sold the organization to talent agency WWE-IMG, which still owns it today.
You can catch this year’s Miss USA pageant on May 2 to see who will win. But you’ll have to wait a bit for the Miss America competition, which will be held on September 8. And for more on the fascinating world of pageants, Meet the Stunning Miss USA 2018.
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