Due to the coronavirus pandemic the competition has been moved to November, causing the previous winner, Cheslie Kryst to become the historically longest reigning beauty queen. The competition has been broadcasted live from Tennessee, where 51 women competed for the crown. The title of Miss USA 2020 went to 22-year-old Asya Branch from Mississippi.
Branch has previously won Miss Mississippi 2018. She is historically the first woman from her state and also the first African American woman to win the nationwide competition. Asya Branch has eight siblings. At age 17, she attended summer school at Harvard University and later graduated from the University of Mississippi. She runs her own company called Branch Beauty, however, the cosmetics line was temporarily suspended due to her victory in Miss.
The two-hour long show began with the announcement of the best sixteen competitors that remained in the competition all the way to the finale. For the first time since 2012, the number of finalists has increased to 16, compared to 15 in previous years. The sixteenth finalist was newly appointed as the winner of the online voting. The finals started with a swimsuit parade to the song "Bossa Nova Baby" by Elvis Presley.
The competing 16 did not stay on the stage for very long due to another elimination right after the promenade. Six girls had to leave and America got its top ten. Then came the time for an evening gown show during which the ladies could enjoy listening to Haley Reinhart’s rendition of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, again by Elvis Presley.
This year's Miss Teen USA winner, Kiʻilani Arrudou, also appeared briefly on stage, wishing the girls good luck and reassuring them that she knew how they were feeling in that moment. After her speech, things started to get really tough when the last five qualifiers were announced - Oklahoma, Mississippi, Indiana, Idaho and Alabama.
The TOP 5 format has only been introduced in 2015, and at this stage of the competition, the beauties are already starting to be under a lot of pressure. This is the most dreaded part for each competitor, as they have to answer two of the jury picked questions. It may seem like an easy task, but the knowledge that the whole world hears your words can be quite daunting.
For example, Mariah Jane Davis from Oklahoma admitted to downloading the TikTok app, even though she knew her data might be stolen. The winner, Asya Branch, mentioned that the key to correcting America is restoring faith in government and the media. Kelly Hutchinson from Alabama commented on the news sources and their responsibility to share verified and unbiased information on social media.
The girls on stage might probably disagree. Each one of them had to talk about American issues, such as gun laws, climate change, mental health reform, and so on.
"I believe that we should require people to pass training and safety courses before they're allowed to purchase a gun and before receiving a permit,"
After the questions, the time to crown the best competitor has come. Last year's winner, Cheslie Kryst, was in charge of the coronation.
"Being Miss USA has afforded me the opportunity to be an advocate for issues that deserve attention, including criminal justice reform and racial inequality,"
Cheslie said in her speech. After the winner's name was announced, Asya Branch couldn't hold back tears and appeared slightly shocked. When asked by a reporter "Who are you?" she replied modestly with "Mississippi". It wasn't until a moment later that she realised she could have answered "Miss USA."