LAS VEGAS (AP) — Fifty-one women are vying for the title of Miss USA in a decades-old event that features beauties from each state and the nation’s capital outfitted in dazzling dresses and swimsuits.
A new Miss USA will be crowned Sunday during the two-hour event taking place in Las Vegas for the second year in a row.
The beauty pageant this year includes five women who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age and now as citizens hope to represent the nation on a global stage.
The women from Florida, North Dakota, Hawaii, Connecticut and New Jersey told The Associated Press this week they have faced challenges and opportunities as immigrants.
“As Miss USA, I would love to be able to be that inspiration for our immigrant community,” said Linnette De Los Santos, who emigrated with her family from the Dominican Republic when she was 5. “If I would have stopped following my dreams and working hard towards what I wanted, I wouldn’t be sitting here as Miss Florida USA or in law school ready to become an immigration attorney.”
The contestants’ remarks stand in stark contrast to the scandal that enveloped the pageant in 2015, when then-part owner and now U.S. President Donald Trump offended Hispanics when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his bid for the White House.
Trump co-owned The Miss Universe Organization with NBCUniversal, but the network and the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision quickly cut ties with him, refusing to air the show. Trump sued both networks, eventually settling and selling the pageant to talent management company WME/IMG.
Sunday’s competition airs live at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox from Mandalay Bay Convention Center. It features hosts Julianne Hough, Ashley Graham and Terrence J.
Grammy winner Pitbull and CMA Award winner Brett Eldredge will perform. The broadcast also will include a performance from a Cirque du Soleil show — a Las Vegas staple — based on Michael Jackson songs.
Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.
The winner of Sunday’s pageant will compete in the Miss Universe contest.