The Miss USA contest finale aired on Monday night on FOX, the pageant's new home since leaving NBC and Trump in 2015. As it does every year, the girls are judged on a number of criteria, including the evening gown presentation and the swimsuit competition. Over the course of the two-hour finale, the girls are whittled down to Top 20, then Top 10, Top 5 and then finally, the winner. But who is the Miss USA 2018 runner-up? Were the predictions that Miss Nevada, Carolina Urrea, would fall just short correct?
They were. Despite Miss Nevada have the most moving platform of ending homelessness, she was second runner-up. The winner was Miss Nebraska, Sarah Rose Summers, who seemingly bombed both her questions, stammering and halting through her "Topical Talking Points" question and completely failing to comprehend the point of the "final question." When asked about going to "a march" she was supposed to state what march she would be inclined to go to and support, not just make a standard sign to would fit with whatever march she was being dragged along to.
This left Miss North Carolina, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, who was clear-eyed and intelligent with both her answers. She turned both back to champion her chosen cause, ending sexual assault. But despite being the right answer of "who should win," she was cosigned to the first runner-up position. She was robbed. Robbed, I say!
So who is Caelynn Miller-Keyes? Check out her bio from the Miss USA website:
Caelynn Miller-Keyes is making headlines with her passion for service, as a social media consultant in Asheville, NC with a degree in broadcast journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University. As a survivor, she is a dedicated advocate for sexual assault prevention by speaking to high school and college students about the importance of consent. She has been instrumental in helping victims have voices by changing the Title IX policies to protect college students, having survived more than one attack personally. As a small child, she was given a 10% chance to walk again after struggling with a life threatening illness, yet she walks the stage gracefully as Miss North Carolina USA and competing for the chance to become the next Miss USA.
Just to be clear, the Miss USA pageant should not be confused with the Miss America pageant. The differences between the two shows are fundamental. Miss USA is a for-profit, and though there is some scholarships money available, the program is owned by William Morris/Endeavor, which is one of the biggest talent agencies in the world. Just getting into the Miss USA finale is a win for these girls, because it gives them exposure to William Morris scouts who don't need them to win in order to decide they are worth representing in a future career on TV or in film. (When the competition aired on NBC, NBC execs used it to funnel cast to their various reality programs.)
The runner-up for Miss USA is also important in other ways, and not just because she gets the most screen time as the winner, but none of the responsibility of having to wear the crown. Unlike Miss America, which is the pinnacle of their pageant circuit, Miss USA is a stepping stone to a larger pageant still: The Miss Universe pageant, which was created at the same time Miss USA was. The Miss USA crowned this week will go on to compete in December for the Miss Universe title, but should something happen to her that she is unable to do so, the runner-up will step in and take her place.
The one thing the first runner-up of Miss USA doesn't get is a prize package. The winner gets an entire array of prizes, according to the Miss USA website. The runner-up? At most, she gets $3000 for her troubles, and the promise that if the winner goes down, she can step in.