Kentucky native Elle Smith was crowned Miss USA 2021 at the annual Miss USA pageant Monday night at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
According to The Root, the pageant winner is the third consecutive black woman crowned Miss USA. Smith made a statement before being crowned the winner at the annual event.
“A little over a year ago, I sat in bed and watched Miss USA. I remember watching Andreia Gibau, Stephanie Marie Miranda Mariah Clayton, and so many more incredible women grace the stage and thinking, ‘I want to be on that stage. I want to be like them.’ Crazy to think this is my official Miss USA headshot, and I made that dream reality.”
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Smith, 23, is a 2020 graduate from the University of Kentucky, the school said on Twitter. According to the biography posted on the WHAS11 News website, she majored in broadcast journalism, where she currently works as a reporter. While attending the University of Kentucky, Smith also served as the vice-president of the school’s National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) chapter, the station said.
The NABJ made a statement, congratulating Smith’s illustrious win.
congratulations to our 2021 Miss USA, Elle Smith !!!
her first season in pageantry.
the second Miss USA from Kentucky.
our third Black woman in a row to hold the title of Miss USA, following Cheslie Kryst (North Carolina) and outgoing Asya Branch (Mississippi). pic.twitter.com/Twj2ZK1BXI
— Beanie it's cold outside, MD 🎶❄️🌈 (@DoctorKevo) November 30, 2021
Smith also plans to represent the US in the Miss Universe pageant on Dec. 12, Eilat, Israel, CNN reported.
While one of the contestants reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, the international pageant will move forward with the show, the Miss Universe organization said in a statement.
The international travel restrictions have taken effect as Israel imposed their guidelines on entering the country, despite the vast spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The government has barred all tourists from entering for the next two weeks, CNN reported.
“The Miss Universe Organization is working with Israeli officials to continue to get our contestants and staff into the country safely for the competition,” the Miss Universe group said.