Hannah Dreier
The Associated Press

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June 17, 2013
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What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay there for woman in pageant

LAS VEGAS — Miss Utah Marissa Powell is the latest beauty queen to trip on national television — not over her gown, but during the interview segment.

Asked about income inequality at the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas on Sunday night, the 21-year-old Salt Lake City resident gave a rambling, awkwardly worded answer that included several long pauses and the phrase “create education better.”

The cringe-inducing response was getting lots of buzz Monday. As a video of the episode racked up hundreds of thousands of views, pageant co-owner Donald Trump scolded the haters on Twitter, saying anyone can lose their train of thought.

The question was a bit of a head-scratcher itself.

“A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?” asked NeNe Leakes of the reality series “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

Undaunted by the three-in-one prompt, Powell started off strong:

“I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are continuing to try to strive ... to ...,” she said, before appearing to lose her way.

She picked up after a long pause: “... figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem. And I think, especially the men are ... seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to see how to create education better. So that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”

Despite the stammering answer, she came in third runner-up.

Miss Utah is not the only beauty to mangle the interview. Face-palm answers are part of the appeal of the live show, and hers was certainly not the worst recorded in a pageant.

Miss South Carolina took that crown with her 2007 “such as”-filled response to a question about why Americans can’t find their own country on a map.

That word-soup answer managed to include South Africa, Iraq, nation building and an allusion to a map shortage in the U.S.

Miss California 2009 brought the phrase “opposite marriage” into the mainstream when she told gay blogger Perez Hilton she opposed same-sex marriage.

Last December, Miss Venezuela became the talk of the Internet after she attempted to answer a question in English during the Miss Universe contest in Las Vegas. Her answer was unintelligible at times, and fans said it cost her the competition. But at least she had a language barrier to blame.

Miss Utah, who was still trending on Twitter a day after her flub, was keeping quiet amid the fallout.

But she did have this to say on her Miss USA page, “It’s not all about winning. It’s about examining yourself, improving and striving to showcase your individuality.”


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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jun 17, 2013 11:13PM Published Jun 17, 2013 05:03PM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.