Miss South Carolina, 2007
In perhaps one of the most infamous pageant slip-ups in recent history, Caitlin Upton stumbled her way through a seemingly simple question during the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant. Asked why some Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map, the teen queen replied: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so, because, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps, and I believe that our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq , everywhere, like, such as, and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., er should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.” The Iraq? Yup, she actually said that.
Miss Universe Australia, 2010
In response to a question about sun-related skin-care issues, Jesinta Campbell was off to a pretty good start. Then—whether it was nerves, the bright lights, or maybe the fact that her dress seemed a bit too tight—Campbell suddenly lost her seemingly smart train of thought. Yet this beauty queen knew she slipped up. She paused, offered a sympathetic giggle, and received light applause from the audience before going on to be crowned 2010’s Miss Universe Australia.
Miss Philippines, 2008
Janina San Miguel was only 17 when she competed for the title of Miss Philippines World in 2008. She received the highest scores in the gown and swimsuit competitions, so the stakes were high for her interview portion. Unfortunately, she seemed to face a bit of a language barrier. Asked what role her family had played in her entry in the pageant, she responded by stumbling over the word “family,” giggling, and then apologizing profusely for being unable to form any sort of coherent response. Despite her slip-up, San Miguel still took home the title.
Miss Alabama, 2007
Jen Gilbert started out relatively strong in her first answer about child abuse. But when asked who should be held accountable for the prison-abuse scandal in Iraq, she looked clueless and visibly uncomfortable before avoiding the question altogether: “I just believe that we should do our best to help ... to help reach our goal in that country,” she said. Nice try. Gilbert didn’t win the crown, but she has won a few laughs on YouTube.
Miss California, 2009
When openly gay Internet pop-culture commentator Perez Hilton asked Miss California her stance on legalizing same-sex marriage during the 2009 Miss USA pageant, her response wasn’t exactly logical: “We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage,” she said, seemingly poised. Not only do many states ban same-sex marriage, but opposite marriage? Really? That’s not even a real phrase! The more she kept talking, the more awkward it became: “You know what, in my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised, and I think that it should be between a man and a woman.” It’s safe to say offense was taken: the cameras caught Hilton shaking his head.
Miss Minnesota, 1995
During the 1995 Miss USA Pageant (starting around 2:40), Miss Minnesota was asked: “Do you think that your career prospects would be affected if affirmative action were dismantled?” Unfortunately she didn’t have the slightest idea what the judge was talking about: “I think that affirmative action is important in your career, and I think that they work together, um, I believe that if you stand strong on what you believe, that you should use that in all aspects of your life including your career. I know that I do.”
Miss Panama, 2009
Sometimes the dumbest responses are also the most creative. When asked about the meaning of a Confucian proverb, Giosué Cozzarelli, a 2009 candidate for Miss Panama, calmly replied: “Confucius ... was one of whom invented confusion. He was one of the Chinese ... Japanese ... who were one of the most ancient. Thank you.” Confucius, for the record, was Chinese. And perhaps it was Cozzarelli who actually invented confusion.
Miss Hawaii, 1992
Asked why she’s proud to be an American, Nadine Tanega, a contestant in the 1992 Miss USA pageant, couldn’t get help but show pride in her home state. “We are truly the land of the great,” she said. “From the rocky shores of ... Hawaii ... to the beautiful sandy beaches of ... Hawaii ... America is our home.” The host replied appropriately: “That’s a wonderfully versatile state you got there.”
Miss Universe, 2005
Apparently some countries are just too self-centered. When Miss Venezuela Mónica Spear was asked about one of the difficult situations her country was going through and how she would solve it, she responded by saying that the Bolivarian nation’s biggest problem was that “we are so into ourself, and we forget about helping others, and that’s one thing I would do, um, just help each other.” Well, at least she’s humble.