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Difference Between Miss America And Miss USA Explained

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Pictured, newly crowned Miss America 2018 (Miss North Dakota 2017) Cara Mund celebrates during the 2018 Miss America Competition Press Conference at Boardwalk Hall Arena on Sept. 10, 2017, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photo: Getty Images/Donald Kravitz

By Susmitha Suresh, International Business Times

The Miss America pageant begins Sept. 9 this year. It is often confused with Miss USA, a similar, but different pageant which is held in May.

Many people often confuse the two unrelated pageants and assume they are one and the same.

The similarities between the competitions are as follows: Both pageant winners get to wear a crown, hold titles of either Miss USA or Miss America, and are awarded scholarships. The pageants are seen as an opportunity for young women to learn leadership skills, earn scholarships, support charities and break into careers like modeling and acting. The pageants begin at a local level and the winners head to the state-level competition where they compete for the crown.

The Miss America pageant is the older of the two, having started in 1921. It was designed by a businessman in Atlantic City after Labor Day to bring in more tourists to the place.

Miss USA began much later in 1952, after Yolande Betbeze, the 1951 winner, refused to pose in a swimsuit. The swimsuit sponsor was angry and formed another pageant, Miss USA.

Even the winnings earned by the victor differ in value. Miss America gives the largest scholarship, which is part of their mission statement: “the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States." Winners receive $50,000 in scholarship money, a report said. In total, all the contestants receive about $302,000 as scholarship money.

Miss USA, on the other hand, gift a year’s scholarship to the New York Film Academy, rent-free NYC apartment and free goodies from sponsors to the winner. Their mission statement stands as such: “To provide the tools which help women to be their personal best."

The competition portions of the two pageants differ as well. Miss America has more focus on the talent portion, accounting for 35 percent of the final vote for contestants. However, in the Miss USA pageant, talent is not taken much into the evaluation. It is based more on swimsuit and evening wear modeling and answering the interview question.

After winning, the crowned Miss America can hold the title for a year before giving it up to the next winner. But in the case of Miss USA, the winner can again compete in the pageant the next year.

The eligibility criterion for the two pageants is also different. To be eligible, Miss America contestants have to be between 17 and 24 years of age, while Miss USA participants have to be between 18 and 27.

Miss America was run by Sharon Pearce till 2015 and is aired on ABC, and the Miss USA pageant was bought by President Donald Trump in 1996, a report said. He retained the ownership till 2015. It used to be aired on NBC but now airs on FOX.

Cara Mund won the Miss America pageant in 2018, whereas Sarah Rose Summers won the title of Miss USA 2018.


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