There is a new war between the states… one being battled out in stilettos, pristine gowns and scanty bikinis. And it looks like the North is winning.
In case you haven’t been a big pageant fan of late, the Northeast is basking in the glow of an unheard of winning streak in pageantry – having produced a string of major pageant winners that is virtually unparalleled in pageantry and has seemingly broken the back of the legendary Southern pageant powerhouse.
Specifically, a posse of gorgeous and smart Yankee misses have captured what had been, until 2012, one of the South’s prides: pageant titles, big, important pageant titles…
This war between the states took a dramatic shift in favor of the North in 2012. That year, the breathtakingly beautiful Olivia Culpo, Miss Rhode Island USA, achieved what previously would have been considered by many to be implausible, if not utterly impossible – a Miss Rhode Island winning both the Miss USA and Miss Universe titles.
Tradition held that New Englanders – and particularly tiny Rhode Island – fare so poorly in pageantry that they might as well have been jinxed.
In 2013, the shocking Northeastern winning streak continued when another gorgeous Yankee, Erin Brady, Miss Connecticut USA, was named as Miss USA 2013.
Brady was not only the first Miss Connecticut USA to win the Miss USA title, but as Culpo’s successor she also became the second Northeastern woman to win that title.
That same year, Mallory Hagan, Miss New York, won the rival Miss America title, making her the third straight Northeastern woman to win a national title — and the first Miss New York City since Bess Myerson in 1945 to claim the Miss America title.
The significance of the Northeast holding three of the most prestigious titles in the world, Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss America — at the same time — was not lost on the beleaguered Northeast pageant community. Having been plagued with the “pageant loser” reputation for decades, the Yankee pageant teams smiled like the cat that ate the canary. Three of them to be exact.
Although one must note that Hagan technically is a Southern belle who is actually from Alabama. She might wear the “Miss New York” banner, but she is the ‘bama belle who moved to the Big Apple for the educational and career opportunities. But pageant-hopping as it is referred to in pageantry, is another long story.
Hagan was succeeded by Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013, who continued the winning streak when judges named her Miss America 2014, giving the Empire state its second back-to-back national crown. (Like her predecessor, Davuluri isn’t actually from New York. The first-ever winner of Indian descent is actually from Michigan.)
Then, on September 14th, 2014, the seemingly impossible happened when judges awarded another Miss New York, Kira Kazantsev, the 2015 Miss America title – making her the third back-to-back Miss York to win the Miss America title and the fifth Northeastern woman to walk off with a major American title.
(Okay, yes there was a minor interruption to that streak when Nia Sanchez, Miss Nevada USA – who rumor has it didn’t actually live in Nevada, but that is another story — was named Miss USA 2014 shortly before Kira’s victory…).
There are also several fascinating side notes:
- Kazantsev could very well have been Miss Russia had her parents not decided to ditch Moscow and immigrate to the USA the year before she was born. (Her dad, Dr. George B. Kazantsev, is a surgeon who attended Second Moskow Medical Institute / Russian State Medical University and now practices in Oakland, California.
- As the daughter of Russian immigrants, Kazantsev speaks fluent Russian and, ironically, won the Miss America title as the USA and Russia are deadlocked in foreign relations nightmare over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- Like her two Miss New York predecessors, Kira is not from New York either. She actually grew up in California before coming to New York to attend Hofstra.
But, we digress. Back to the Northeastern winning streak. It was unheard of in pageant circles…the kind of achievement that those in-the-know in pageantry would have predicted could only be achieved by the South, the legendary pageant powerhouse.
So now pageant onlookers are left to wonder, have we entered a new era in pageantry in which the great South has been brought to its knees by the North?
Or is this merely a temporary season which will soon enough pass to allow the legendary Southern pageant powerhouse to rise to dominate pageantry again? To learn if and how the mighty Northeast’s winning streak ends, tune in next fall for the next battle in the crowning war between the states.