Miss Minnesota USA 2017, Meridith Gould. Photo: Miss Universe Organization4. Miss Illinois USA 2017, Whitney Wandland Question: "Advocates for women’s rights have been leading the conversation this year. Which specific issue regarding women’s rights is most important to you?" (Read: Pageant Question About Inspiring Women) Answer: "The most important issue is being able to be open and speak about your experience no matter what workforce you are in. Women should be able to speak about their experience without being scared of retaliation for what they have to say and everything they have to say should be investigated to the fullest extent. Both parties, the accused or the accusee should be protected in the process." Whitney missed the mark with this answer. She seems to be referring to investigations of workplace harassment, but she does not clarify. This question gave the opportunity for a very specific topic to be chosen (for example, the wage gap, women's reproductive rights, etc.) but her answer was vague and jumbled. She also misspoke when she said "accusee" instead of "accuser." Unfortunately, this answer kept her out of the top three contestants of the night.
Miss Illinois USA 2017, Whitney Wandland. Photo: Miss Universe Organization3. Miss South Carolina USA 2017, Megan Gordon Question: "Suicide recently became the second-leading cause of death among teenagers. What actions would you take as Miss USA to help struggling teenagers?" Answer: "Most of those who commit suicide are those who feel like their voices won’t be heard; that their problems will not be overcome. I believe what we can do to really eradicate that is to create an environment where our teenagers and those who feel that they need help are... their voices are heard and that we are there for them. We need to set up counseling and other resources for these people so that we can get rid of those suicide problems." Again, I think the lack of specifics is what is lacking in Megan's answer. She starts strong but her thoughts seemed to run together and her answer had no clear direction. Especially since suicide has been heavily covered in the media due to Netflix sensation "13 Reasons Why," this answer had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the answer given was generalized and had a weak ending, diminishing the effect it could have had on viewers. (Read: Pageant Question About 13 Reasons Why)
Miss South Carolina USA 2017, Megan Gordon. Photo: Miss Universe Organization2. Miss New Jersey USA 2017, Chhavi Verg Question: "Social media allows us to share every aspect of our lives, but it can also cause us to be hyper aware of how we measure up to others. Do you believe that social media is ultimately a positive or a negative?" (Read: Pageant Question About Being Safe on Social Media) Answer: "With social media, I believe it has given us so much power in this world, but with great power comes great responsibility. I have seen both ends of social media. For me, it has been one of the most empowering experiences because I have met so many empowered women, but at the same time, I have been a victim of cyberbullying like many of the contestants standing with me on this stage. Social media is again, a privilege. It is something you have to be careful of, you can’t just say anything because you’re anonymous. Once we realize that, that’s when we can truly live in a better world for everyone." Chhavi's words themselves were a bit scattered toward the end of her answer, and she did not technically choose whether she believes social media is more positive or negative, but what her answer had going for it was its extremely strong and confident delivery. Chhavi was poised and spoke clearly. She ran out of time with only a couple of words left, using the full time given to get her point across. Her answer, as well as her phenomenal answer in the final answer round of competition, earned her first runner-up to Miss USA!
Miss New Jersey USA 2017, Chhavi Verg. Photo: Patrick Prather1. Miss District of Columbia USA 2017/Miss USA 2017, Kára McCullough Question: "Do you think affordable healthcare for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege and why?" (Read: Miss USA 2017 Sparks Controversy With Onstage Question) Answer: "I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege. As a government employee, I am granted healthcare and I see firsthand that for one to have healthcare you need to have jobs. So, therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we are given the opportunity to have healthcare as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide." In the answer heard around the world, Kára gave a controversial opinion regarding healthcare in the United States. However, the question does not ask what she thinks healthcare SHOULD be, it asks what it IS. This might have contributed to the answer given. Additionally, it was clarified by Kára two days after winning that she meant to say she is privileged to have healthcare provided by her employer and that she thinks affordable healthcare should be a right for all citizens. She only used about 18 seconds of her 30 allotted seconds to answer her question. Although her delivery had potential to be stronger based on her confidence in earlier rounds of competition, Kára ended up taking the Miss USA 2017 crown. Congrats, Kára!
Miss USA 2017, Kára McCullough. Photo: Miss Universe OrganizationOverall, there were no answers that had me saying "Wow!" during this year's onstage question phase. However, all of these ladies deserve major props – the circumstances surrounding a national level onstage question round are beyond intimidating, and no onstage question will ever be perfect! Congratulations to all contestants and to our new Miss USA!
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