Louisiana – Lauren Vizza
One of the two contestants who benefitted from the recently-expanded age limit (28), also happens to be the host delegate. Yes, she is facially striking, and yes, she’s competing on home court, but objectively speaking, there are other far more solid performers in this batch. Still, a possible placement shouldn’t be discounted.
Maine – Marina Gray
Tiny girl from a tiny state. She works for the military and was once recognized as Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year in her unit. But before you dismiss her as “Blonde Deshauna”, her heart-wrenching back story of having been emancipated from her family at age 16 could earn her more points.
Maryland – Brittinay Nicolette
This redhead serves as Transplant Coordinator for the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland and as an advocate against sexual assault and domestic violence. Apart from that WME/IMG-luring resume, she also looked great in the preliminaries – probably enough for her to end her state’s two-year drought.
Massachusetts – Allissa Latham
It’s been 20 years since her state won its first title and what a way to celebrate that anniversary. This future healthcare executive stole the limelight from many pre-pageant favorites last week with one of the bounciest catwalks in this bunch. Now, it looks like she’s ready to steal a semi-final spot as well.
Michigan – Elizabeth Johnson
While not a clear-cut frontrunner, this Krav Maga expert is involved in a multitude of relevant causes, apart from being a solid performer. Sash power also might help.
Minnesota – Kalie Wright
She’s actually from Idaho. In fact, she follows the footsteps of her predecessor, who also once competed in Miss America representing a different state and eventually crossed over to this pageant with better results. Looks-wise, she seems deserving of a similar lofty feat. But with so many other humanitarian factors now being considered in the selection process, it would be a relief to see her at least make the cut.
Mississippi – Laine Mansour
She’s another preliminary standout and to be quite honest, she’s even more facially striking than another Lebanese who competed in this pageant eight years ago and won. But again, with so many different factors considered in the selection process nowadays, she’s going to need more than a pretty face to advance.
Missouri – Tori Kruse
Last year’s candidate benefitted from the distinction of being this state’s first black representative. This year’s bet doesn’t benefit from such extra mileage.
Montana – Dani Walker
Her Youtube page has more than 10,000 subscribers as of this writing. That may or may not be her key to ranking higher.
Nebraska – Sarah Rose Summers
Quite easily the face of this year’s pageant and, as her surname suggests, she has an extremely sunny personality to boot. To be fair, she’s now a far more formidable contender than she was in her Teen stint six years ago. But with several other standout preliminary performances last week, will her pretty face be enough?
Nevada – Carolina Urrea
This year’s perceived frontrunners from Florida and Georgia are Puerto Rican and Colombian, respectively. As for this former Nuestra Belleza Latina contestant, she once overcame homelessness at a young age in addition to delivering a fine preliminary performance. Could there be room for a Mexican on top as well? It sure seems that way.
New Hampshire – Michelle McEwan
While her name suggests otherwise, this girl is Thai and, in fact, speaks the language fluently. Now, if only she had the same fierceness as Thai contestants.
New Jersey – Alexa Noone
This flight attendant of Filipino-Nicaraguan descent has a passing resemblance to Ariana Grande. She’s leagues behind Chhavi Verg (Read: ROBBED), but having identical twin brothers with special needs might be her ticket to a back-to-back placement.
New Mexico – Kristen Leyva
While this mechanical engineer won’t likely be the Latina-of-choice, her “woman-rocking-a-man’s-job” back story means she shouldn’t be dismissed that easily.
New York – Genesis Suero
She aims to be the first Dominican-born Miss USA, as commentated by Erin Lim in the preliminaries, though it’s worth remembering that 2003 winner Susie Castillo is half-Dominican. Now prior to the pageant, Latin fans initially envisioned the Final Two to be between her and her Florida namesake. Alas, that scenario became slightly less conceivable last week. She sizzled in preliminary swimsuit, but the wonky tower-bun she sported in preliminary evening gown might have been too much of a styling risk. It pains us to say this, but among the four perceived Latina frontrunners in this bunch, she now stands the risk of becoming the sacrificial lamb.