The question-and-answer portion of beauty pageants is always good for angering the Internet — and Sunday night’s Miss America pageant, which crowned 21-year-old Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields the winner, certainly delivered.
The Top 7 contestants were given a series of surprisingly tough, politically charged questions as the women vied for the crown. As you can see, these were questions (see transcripts below) that would be challenging for anyone, let alone someone who has 20 seconds to formulate an answer on live television — and is trying hard not to alienate any judges or viewers.
While timely political questions are the pageant norm, some were not pleased by this year’s theme:
I mean is this a political debate or a pageant??? Maybe I forgot what I was watching because it clearly wasn't a pageant #MissAmerica
— Morgan Kollette (@MorganKollette) September 12, 2016
Who ever wrote these #MissAmerica questions should be ashamed. Whatever happened to political views being private? Tacky and rude.
— Out Rae Geous (@_TheOpinion) September 12, 2016
Is the new #MissAmerica going to moderate the next presidential debate? Why were those questions so political?
— Devin Sears (@devin_sears) September 12, 2016
These girls only get 20 seconds to eloquently answer open ended political questions. Most politicians can't do that #MissAmerica
— Cassie Williams (@cassielee514) September 12, 2016
#MissAmerica where you're given 45 seconds to strut in your swimsuit, but less than 20 seconds to answer political questions
— John Teeth (@JohnTeeth) September 12, 2016
Topics ranged from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to immigration; here are all of the questions and answers:
Question 1: “The immigration debate rages on: Building a wall along the Mexico border, establishing sanctuary cities, deporting 11 million undocumented people. Do you believe our country has an immigration problem?”
Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt: “You know, we certainly do. And I myself am a quarter Japanese. My great-grandfather is an immigrant, and I think that America really is a nation built on immigrants and so this is an issue that we have to come to a resolution on and be welcoming to others to come into this nation of freedom.”
Question 2: “Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson just accepted a $20 million settlement from Fox News for her sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes. Fox paid. Ailes walked. What message does this send?”
Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis: “This sends a message that we have so much further to go with equality in the workforce. Women are just as equal as men in the workforce and I think — it’s 2016, guys. We’ve got to focus on this and have equality in the workforce. And when we start focusing on that, it’s going to be great.”
Question 3: “49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has ignited a national debate by refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. Do you sit with him or stand against him?”
Miss Washington Alicia Cooper: “The first thing I want to say is we need to focus on how important the Black Lives Matter issue is, all lives matter in this situation. I don’t necessarily support the fact that he sat out, but I do respect that he took a knee and that people are joining in. Because we need to focus on the resolution to this problem, and we need to come together as a nation to have everyone feel equal in our society.”
Question 4: “Journalists are calling out Matt Lauer for aggressively grilling Hillary Clinton while letting Donald Trump slide. Others are declaring a liberal media bias. How would you grade the media on their election coverage?”
Miss Maryland Hannah Brewer: “I think it’s been very — I think it’s been very equal to both parties. I think both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have received a lot of criticism for the way that they’re going about this campaign, and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I think that we need to support both of these people. They are trying to make our country a better place and I support them both.”
Question 5: “Donald J. Trump. What do you think of him? You have 20 seconds, go.”
Miss New York Camille Sims: (laughs) “I think that he’s a bright reminder of how our country needs to come together. If you don’t agree with his message, then it’s time to decide where you stand in this debate. As Americans, we need to make sure that we come together, represent what it means to be American — which is celebrating all people from all backgrounds whether you’re an immigrant, or a Native American, or an African American, or an Asian American.
Question 6: “Hillary Rodham Clinton. What do you think?”
Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields: (laughs) “Sorry, that’s kind of funny. If you’re trying to be leader of the free world, everything you say and do matters, and all of your actions are held to a higher standard. And unfortunately, the media does love to sensationalize everything, and it’s hard to tell what is truth and what is truly scandal. I think going back at what my previous contestant said, both of these contestants have done a great job. Er, both of these candidates have done a great job in competing, but they also need to watch what they’re doing, and — (gets cut off for time limit)
Question 7: “This is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. What is one thing the new president should do to protect us?”
Miss Texas Caroline Carothers: “Yes, 15 years ago today we were attacked, and that is very unfortunate. But one thing that our new president needs to realize is that one thing about being strong with this country is learning when and where to be cautious. And I believe that if our new president understands that and learns that, then we will be in a better place and we’ll be much safer as a nation.”