Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pageant Math

Some people think all pageant girls grow up a la "Toddlers and Tiaras"... practicing their sugar-sweet smiles and perfect poses from the day they were old enough to walk. But it doesn't take decades of pageant experience in order to see yourself on stage at Miss America (although sometimes it works out that way, but rarely). Essentially, the pageant world has it's own 'math' that we use to determine who's likely to win. It has very little to do with how old you are, instead we're more interested in how old you are in 'pageant years'. Let me explain.

There are usually 3 groups of 'pageant girls' at Miss America... and here they are (in no particular order - haha)...

Group #1 = Purists. These are girls who are loyal to Miss America and her crown only, refusing to partake in other sub-standard pageants. It may take her 5 attempts to win her state, but because she believes in the Miss America ideal, she refuses to look elsewhere.

Group #2 = Veterans. These girls have been in numerous pageants - as children, as teenagers or as young women. Doesn't matter if they competed in the Miss America system or a different system (Miss USA, ANTSO, Teen Competitions, etc), pageants are as natural to them as crying on stage and waving in parades.

Group #3 = Babies. These are girls who have little to no pageant experience whatsoever. In our humble opinion, if you've competed in 5 or more pageants, you're no longer a baby. It's not about how old you are (you can be 24 or 18) - it's about how many pageants you've entered.

Miss America has certainly crowned their share of winners in each group... for example:

Purists = Jennifer Berry and Deidre Downs both won their respective states on their 5th try before moving on to be named Miss America. Debbye Turner and Debra Maffett each needed 4 attempts across 2 different states to win, rather than participate in a different system like Miss USA or others.

Veterans = Nearly all Miss America winners have 'some' pageant experience. Katie Stam, Lauren Nelson, Erica Dunlap and Teresa Scanlan all participated and did quite well at pageants in other systems before joining the Miss America system and winning the title (even though Katie, Lauren and Teresa all won their state on their first try).

Babies = The rarest of winners, when Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, Kristen Haglund and Kimberly Aiken all won the Miss America title, it was only their 3rd pageant ever (in all 3 cases).

So, based on this kind of 'pageant math', who falls in what category for the title of Miss America 2012? Let's take a peek:

Purists = Alabama, Virginia, Florida and Missouri. Bama won on her 6th attempt at Miss Alabama. Virginia, Florida and Missouri all won on their 5th attempt. These ladies get the perseverance award for what we're guessing is a total of 50+ pageants between the 4 of them. WOW!

Veterans = All of the MAOTeen Girls listed yesterday plus California, North Dakota and Kansas for sure... might be a few others who have various experiences with other systems, but those are the ones we know about. CA was Miss Teen World in 08 and Miss Teenage CA in 07, ND was Teen USA in '10 and KS was Teen USA in '04 and KS 'US' in 2010 (finishing as 2nd Runner Up).

Babies = DC, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Utah, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Maine and Wyoming
all won on their first trip to their state pageants! While we can't say ALL of these girls have been in less than 5 pageants, there's no doubt quite a few of them qualify (we know DC, UT and PA do for sure).

Most of the time, experience counts. Remember, in the past 23 years, only 3 'Babies' have been crowned. It's all part of the 'pageant math' we use when putting together our ballots!

Who do you have in your Top 5???


  1. I like Baby Iowa - & Baby Illinois --- Veteran California -- and Purist Florida finally won on a year when they want fun and fresh - & she polished!

  2. just making random guesses and hopes but here are my top 5 WITHOUT seeing prelims (in no order yet)

    texas, ca, missouri, mn, colorado

    these are random and i need to re watch the videos, so i am sure i will change them even before prelims start!

  3. Update: Kaye Lani Rafko had more pageant experience by Miss America, although she certainly was not a typical contestant. MAO 1988 was at least number 5.
    She has two local titles - Miss Monroe County 1981 and Miss Monroe County 1986. The local permitted a queen to run again back in the day, but that doesn't happen anymore. Therefore, she ran twice for Miss Michigan.
    I also found a reference to "several pageants" in our online records, but I would have to dig through a print library to find the details.

  4. Bree Boyce, Miss South Carolina, won on her 2nd trip to the pageant. She first competed as Miss Florence, and then as won as Miss Capital City. She also was Miss FMU (Francis Marion University). Bree also competed in pageants as a young child.

  5. Great Updates Junkies! Thanks for keeping us honest! Can't do this job without you! :)