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What You MUST Know About Miss America Rules Before Competing

17, January 2015

The Miss America Organization is known for having very strict rules for titleholders. To girls new to the pageant world, or new to the Miss America Org., these rules can be very confusing (or even seem like a foreign language!) As a MAO competitor myself, I know that these things can be very complicated. So, to make it “less complicated,” here is the Pageant Planet’s breakdown of the Miss America Organization rules-- what you need to know!

Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields. Photo: Miss America Organization

(Disclaimer: We did not break down every aspect of the local, state or national Teen level/Miss level contracts-- we only listed the rules we found interesting or particularly important to contestants. This is not legal advice.)

Section 1 -- Introduction

(Section 1.3) -- The “year of service” applies to local, state and national titleholders. Titleholders are required to make all scheduled appearances (scheduled by her directors), travel by request of directors, and follow “all detailed Miss America Procedures” during their yearlong reign as titleholder.

Section 2-- Eligibility

(Section 2.2) -- Age eligibility is strictly enforced by the MAO. Teen contestants must be between 13-17 years of age (or up to a junior in high school), and Miss contestants must be between 17-25 years of age (a senior in high school through college).

(Section 2.3)  -- Residency requires you to live, work or attend school in the state you will be representing.

(Section 2.5) -- As a teen, you are required to be enrolled in school full-time to be eligible; as a Miss, you are required to “be a high school senior no later than the date of first competition, or have successfully completed the G.E.D. testing program for high school equivalency, or have successfully completed the academic requirements for entry into an accredited college/university degree program.”

Section 2.6-- Personal Characteristics

The MAO requires every contestant and titleholder to abide by the following personal characteristics:

(Section 2.6.1) -- You must be female.

(Section 2.6.2) -- You can not be married, previously married or divorced. (

Section 2.6.3) -- You must not have a child-- currently or previously pregnant, or be the adoptive parent of any child.

(Section 2.6.5) -- You must not have been charged for any minor offenses in the last 24 months; you can not compete if you have ever been convicted of a “criminal offense”.

Section 2.7 -- Contractual and Other Obligations

(Section 2.7.1) -- As a Miss contestant, you are required to raise a minimum of $100.00 for the Children’s Miracle Network for each local pageant. Once you are a local titleholder, you must raise $250.00 for CMNH to compete in the state-level pageant. As a state titleholder, you must raise $500.00 to compete in the National Finals.

(Section 2.7.3) -- Once you are a titleholder for the Miss America Organization, you are entirely dedicated to the service that comes with that title. Therefore, by competing in other pageants, you “break” the contract and are forced to give up your title.

(Section 2.7.5) -- You can not get engaged during your year of service without written permission from the Miss America Organization.

Section 4-- Participation

(Section 4.1) -- You are required to participate in all events of competition, as well as all competition-scheduled appearances. You are required to make all “television and radio broadcasts, personal appearances, interviews, still photo sessions, and video and audio taping or filming of all or any part of the events associated with the competition.”

(Section 4.5) -- You must give the MAO permission to use “all photographs, tapes and films made of  for trade, advertising and any other purpose or purposes as a participant in the competition.”

(Section 4.6) -- If you are selected as the first runner-up, you must make yourself available to assume all positions of the titleholder if they must step down.

Section 5-- Commitments of Service

Section 5 of the MAO contract re-iterates a lot of the subjects aforementioned.

(Section 5.1) -- As the titleholder, you are expected to make full-time appearances.

(Section 5.2) --  You are required to support and represent the national platform (CMNH) along with your personal platform.

(Section 5.5) -- You must give the organization permission to make press releases and public statements for you, sign contracts in your name with reference to appearances, as well as both determine and receive appropriate compensation for you.

(Section 5.7) -- The organization is not required to give you any indication of how many appearances will be given, however, you will be expected to attend all unless otherwise stated by a director.

Section 6 -- Legal Obligations While almost all of section six is repetition of other portions of the contract, there is one specific section you should pay attention to:

(Section 6.7) -- If any statements you make in the contract are untrue, if something changes your eligibility, if you have inappropriate mannerisms, do not follow the rules, or suffer a disability that keeps you from fulfilling duties, the MAO can take your title from you.

Overall, the MAO rules can seem a little excessive to some. However, the Miss America Organization does hold one of the most successful pageants in the world, as well as remains the biggest scholarship organization in the world.  

If you are always a cautious contestant and read the whole contract, none of these rules will ever “sneak up on you," and you’ll be an educated titleholder.


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