These Are the Real Differences Between Miss USA and Miss America

If you're confused about the crown, you're not alone.

old miss america pageant, difference between miss usa and miss america
circle

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 with representatives from each of the 50 states. However, Miss America and Miss USA are two separate organizations with many differences between them. Read on for a primer on their five key variances.

1
Miss USA started as a swimsuit competition and Miss America began as a tourist attraction.

pageant swimsuit, bikini, pageant facts
Shutterstock

Miss America, the oldest of the two competitions, began 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, Yolande Betbeze, refused to pose in a swimsuit during her reign.

2
Only Miss America cares about contestants' talents.

pageant talent with a contestant singing, miss america and miss usa
Shutterstock

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. The scoring differences don't stop there, however. 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."

3
Miss USA allows slightly older contestants to compete.

tall pageant contestant miss demark being crowned, pageant facts
Shutterstock

The age requirements for each pageant vary just slightly. Miss America allows women ages 17 to 25 to compete and Miss USA allows competitors ages 18 to 28.

4
Miss America gets a scholarship, while Miss USA gets a stylist.

kalyin chapman at old miss usa pageant conference, pageant facts
Shutterstock

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.

Also, 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.

5
Only Miss America is a non-profit organization.

miss america contestants answering questions,
Shutterstock

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 America pageant on Sunday, September 9 to see who will win. And for more Americana, check out the 50 Facts About America That Most Americans Don't Know.

To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to follow us on Instagram!

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE