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The Miss USA pageant went on as scheduled Sunday night.
The pageant had been caught up in controversy after Republican presidential candidate and pageant owner Donald Trump said in his announcement speech: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
NBC and Univision dropped the pageant, and several participants opted out, but the pageant did find a new home on Reelz Channel. There was little mention of the recent Trump controversy apart from a judge noting vaguely that she was happy to be there supporting the contestants amid the “chaos of the past couple weeks.”
And co-host Todd Newton noted at the start of the show that it the pageant had “become the most anticipated and what will be the greatest night in recent pageant history.”
Held in Baton Rouge, La., the pageant saw a final five consisting of Miss Texas USA Ylianna Guerra, Miss Maryland USA Mame Adjei, Miss Rhode Island USA Anea Garcia, Miss Nevada USA Brittany McGowan and Miss Oklahoma USA Olivia Jordan.
Here’s how they finished:
Fourth runner-up: Maryland
Third runner-up: Nevada
Second runner-up: Rhode Island
First runner-up: Texas
The broadcast also featured a segment highlighting the diverse backgrounds of several contestants, whose families are from countries ranging from Mexico to Poland to France to Albania, and also spotlighted the contestants talking about promoting better understanding among people of different cultures.
The judges’ panel — originally scheduled to include HGTV’s Jonathan Scott, former NFL star Emmitt Smith, actor and TV personality Terrence Jenkins and former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera, all of whom dropped out following Trump’s comments — include former Miss Teen USA, Miss USA or Miss Universe winners: Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006; Danielle Doty, Miss Teen USA 2011; Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010; Leila Lopes Umenyiora, Miss Universe 2011; Nana Meriwether, Miss USA 2012; Brook Lee, Miss Universe 1997; Michelle McLean-Bailey, Miss Universe 1992; Kimberly Pressler, Miss USA 1999; and Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008.
Newton hosted the show with Alex Wehrley. They came on board after original co-hosts Thomas Roberts, Cheryl Burke and Jeannie Mai dropped out. Cristian de la Fuente and Roselyn Sanchez also opted not to host the Spanish-language simulcast of the pageant.
Several performers, including Flo Rida, country singer and The Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd and pop singer Natalie La Rose, also backed out.
Singers Travis Garland and former American Idol finalist Stefano Langone started off the show with three songs “Born on the Bayou,” ”She’s a Bad Mama Jama” and “American Woman” as the contestants strutted on stage and introduced themselves.
Trump himself was not present, tweeting Saturday: “I will not be able to attend the Miss USA pageant tomorrow night because I am campaigning in Phoenix. Wishing all well!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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