Top 10 Miss America Fails

Script written by Nathan Sharp.

Some of the most scandalous pageant moments ever are also some of the most awkward pageant moments ever. Whether it’s a judge like Mark Cuban licking his lips during the swimsuit competition, a contestant saying Ellen DeGeneres should be on the $10 bill or Vanessa Williams being forced to resign, these are some of the worst moments in beauty pageants. WatchMojo counts down ten of the most embarrassing moments in Miss America pageant history.

Special thanks to our user jaimieroussos for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Miss%20America%20Fails

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Script written by Nathan Sharp.

Top 10 Miss America Fails


Well... that could have gone better. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top Ten Miss America Fails.

For this list, we’re looking at what are widely considered to be the biggest fails in “Miss America” history, whether they’re missteps by the contestants, the judges, the public, or within the history of the pageant itself. We’ll only be including the Miss America pageant on this list, so all other beauty pageants, including Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe, won’t appear here.

#10: Mark Cuban Licks His Lips
Miss America 2017

Who knew a Miss America pageant could yield such creepy results? During the Miss America 2017 swimsuit competition, the camera cut to judge Mark Cuban at an inopportune time, and he was briefly seen licking his lips while watching the bikini-clad women strut the stage. In all fairness, it was likely an innocent action, but one that inevitably spawned a ton of creepy memes all the same. In the aftermath, Cuban reportedly even took to Twitter to respond to the jokes being made at his expense, declaring, “It’s a lot harder than it looks.” Whatever that means. Actually... we don’t want to know.

#9: Illinois Is the HQ of John Deere
Miss America 2017

The Miss America “Show Us Your Shoes” parade is an event in which the contestants travel down the Atlantic City Boardwalk and show off something unique about their state through their outfit. This can be something obvious and playful, or something the contestants want to share with the world, like a lesser-known piece of trivia that others may find interesting. Miss Illinois Jaryn Franklin took this opportunity to highlight the fact that her home state brought us John Deere tractors. That has to be one of the weirdest claims to fame ever, but hey, those tractor shoes are kind of cute.

#8: Copying ‘Pitch Perfect’
Miss America 2015

The Miss America stage is a place where you can show off your unique talents to the world - the operative word here being “unique.” Clearly having missed that memo however, Miss New York presented a blatant rip off the red cup scene from “Pitch Perfect.” And unfortunately, her interpretation wasn’t a particularly good one. Not only does her singing leave something to be desired; she also took the cup beat straight from the movie rather than creating her own, which, paired with Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” meant the whole thing was often offbeat. It was a bit of a mess, but hey, it made for entertaining television. Just… not in the way she intended. Then again, she did win the crown at the end of the day.

#7: Ellen DeGeneres on the New $10 Bill
Miss America 2016

She is a widely loved, accomplished and inspiring woman, but the face of the $10 bill? Come on, now. During the Miss America 2016 question and answer period, Kevin O’Leary asked Miss Colorado which woman the treasury should put on their new $10 bill. Colorado closed her eyes for a second before answering Ellen DeGeneres, explaining that she is caring, tolerant, and funny. While this caused smiles and cheers from the crowd, others were not so kind, as they believed that there were far more deserving women than a talk show host. That – and the fact that one of the requirements to be on the bill is that the woman is no longer alive...

#6: Miss Tennessee’s Favorite Celebrity Is Pinterest
Miss America 2015

Oh boy. Who’s gonna sit her down and explain what the word “celebrity” means? During the Miss America 2015 pageant, viewers were looking at some extravagant sparkly gowns and dresses. And while bombarding the viewer with stimuli, they were airing little factoids about the contestants so that we could get to know them a little better. While others discussed their love and loyalty to charities, Miss Tennessee took the opportunity to tell us that she thought “Pinterest is my celebrity”. We assume that she meant that Pinterest is her favorite celebrity, but even then, we have so many more questions.

#5: Victory Tour Cut Short for Being Jewish
Miss America 1945

As of 2017, there has only been one Jewish Miss America winner since the pageant’s beginnings in 1921: a woman by the name of Bess Myerson. She encountered anti-Semitism even before winning the competition, as she was told to use a pseudonym in order to sound “less Jewish” and win over the crowd. After ignoring their requests, she won the 1945 competition, but her problems didn’t end there. Three of five sponsors pulled out because they didn’t want to be associated with a Jewish woman, and she was forced to cut her victory tour short after being denied entry from various hotels.

#4: Vanessa Williams Is Forced to Resign
Miss America 1984

Just as Bess Myerson was treated unfairly, so was the first African American winner. Vanessa Williams was crowned the first African American Miss America in 1983, but during her reign, news broke that Penthouse had access to nude photographs and were going to publish them without her permission. Rather than backing their Miss America, the organization all but forced her to resign, which she did on July 23, 1984. Meanwhile, the public relentlessly humiliated her, her parents were harassed, and Penthouse enjoyed its most successful publication ever. When Williams returned to serve as head judge in 2015, she finally got the long overdue apology she deserved.

#3: African Americans as Slaves
Miss America 1923

Oh, you thought we were done with the horrifying background of Miss America? Think again. It was in 1923 that the first African Americans appeared on the Miss America stage. Too bad it wasn’t as contestants but under these conditions instead: black men and women were masqueraded as slaves and proudly displayed as such onstage during a musical number. Yes, believe it or not, less than one hundred years ago, black people were still being portrayed as inferior and as property – but hey, there you have it.

#2: Euthanasia Is a Vaccine
Miss America 2013

Well, she had good intentions. During a preliminary pre-pageant question period, which unfortunately, was filmed and featured on the TV special “Pageant Confidential”, Miss California Leah Cecil was asked about her views on the legalization of euthanasia. Cecil at first took the honorable approach by admitting that she didn’t understand the subject and that she needed to do further research in order to gain a better understanding. However, before her questioner could move on, she then said “that’s a vaccine, right?”. Oh, Leah. If you just left it at your original answer, all would have been fine.

#1: A Contestant Is Asked to Solve ISIS in 20 Seconds
Miss America 2015

OK seriously, what is with these Miss America questions? Some contestants are thrown goofy queries about Tom Brady deflating footballs like in the 2016 edition, while others are asked to solve major world conflicts as in the previous year. In what is perhaps the most baffling question ever presented at the pageant, one of the judges asked what the country’s response should be towards the ISIS threat. The contestant only had 20 seconds to answer this incredibly complex question. Honestly, she does damn well with her answer, but seriously, what kind of question is that? This is a subject for government officials, not 21 year-old Miss America contestants. On second thought, stick to the football stuff.
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