Miss West Virginia had harsh words for President Donald Trump during a portion of the Miss America contest Friday night, calling Trump the “biggest issue” Americans face in an interview for the crown.
The Wrap reports that Madeline Collins was given the question, “What is the biggest issue facing Americans today?” as part of the program’s “interview segment,” which replaced the swimsuit competition in a change made earlier this year. The theory behind the change was that while the swimsuits highlighted women’s bodies in a way that could be perceived as “sexist,” a question-and-answer portion would be more likely to showcase the female intellect.
The group behind Miss America also re-labeled the annual event a “competition,” dropping the word “pageant.”
But if the women were stymied by the mechanics of swimwear, they fared little better when peppered with questions about current events.
“Donald Trump is the biggest issue our country faces,” Collins told the judges. “Unfortunately, he has caused a lot of division in our country.”
The Wrap notes that the answer periods were limited to a mere 20 seconds — a sort of rapid-fire situation — so Collins was not able to elaborate on her claim, but the quotation itself might be enough to defeat Miss America’s stated goal of increased relevance among American viewers.
The annual pageant has been roiled by controversy of late; last year’s Miss America, Cara Mund, went public recently with claims that she was “bullied” by the Miss America board, including former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. She claims she was ridiculed for her clothing choices, muscled out of interviews and appearances, and nearly banned from the nationally televised 2018 broadcast.
The changes were allegedly an effort to save the 96-year-old pageant, which has posted severely declining ratings every year for nearly a decade. But the controversies — and comments — may not be the kind of “relevance” the pageant is looking for.
The full pageant will air on ABC Sunday evening.