BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma was crowned Miss USA on Sunday, beating out 50 other contestants and overcoming weeks of controversy generated by pageant co-owner Donald Trump to win the 64th annual pageant.
The 26-year-old winner was followed by first runner-up Yliana Guerra, 22, of Texas, and second runnerup Anea Garcia, 20, of Rhode Island. They were followed by 25-year-old Miss Nevada Brittany McGown, 25, third runner-up and then Miss Maryland Mame Adjei, 23, to round out the top five.
Trump, the pageant co-owner and real estate mogul, slammed Mexican immigrants in comments during his announcement that he was running for president. That led to widespread fallout against his business dealings, including the pageant. He wasn’t present Sunday.
Broadcasters, including NBC and Univision, dropped the pageant and a slew of celebrities lined up to perform, judge and host dropped out just as the pageant was kicking into high gear in Baton Rouge.
Pageant organizers rushed to fill the gap so the show could go on. Satellite and cable channel Reelz television stepped in to air the show, while assuring people that Trump would not benefit financially. And former Miss USA and Miss Universe winners were recruited as judges.
The pageant featured an evening wear and swimsuit competition as well as a personality interview. The preliminary contest was held earlier this week and then the number of women remaining was progressively narrowed during the course of Sunday evening’s telecast.
The final five women hailed from Oklahoma, Texas, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Nevada.
Jordan, of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. She attended Boston University, where she earned a B.S. in Health Science. She has appeared in several national and international commercials and feature films, most recently, Hot Tub Time Machine 2.
Paula Shugart, who heads the Miss Universe Organization, thanked the CEO of Reelz and the returning pageant winners for stepping in to help during a news conference Sunday.
“I love you all. You are the only reason we exist,” she said to the women during a news conference Sunday.
Shugart said the challenges of the past few weeks will make for great practice for whichever woman is crowned Miss USA, teaching them how to stay focused: “You have to forget everything going on around you.”
When asked if the relationship between the pageant and Reelz would last beyond Sunday night, Stan Hubbard said the agreement was for one night only.
The judges talked about their love of the organization and said they know first-hand what the women are feeling.
The 51 women represented every state and the District of Columbia.