Picking Beauty Queens: The Killer App


This year’s Miss America Pageant will take place Saturday January 21, 2005, and the usual attendees will be placing bets (of social capital) in the following week. Having won (or tied for first) both of the previous times we have played, I hesitantly announce my killer app. Here’s how it works:

There are contestants from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Early in the broadcast (after a hello from each of the contestants and a massive dance/costume number) the number is whittled to fifteen (or perhaps ten) finalists. Each of us chooses ten contestants before the fifteen (or ten as the case may be) are named. Whoever picks the winner, wins. If no one picks the winner, or two people pick the winner, whoever picks the first-runner-up wins.

Simple enough. Most people (and by most I mean two or three of the girls who play with us) choose by reading the Bios. Some even attempt some sort of racial equality in their picks. I, bold as it may seem, find that these cloud the issue. The trick, as with sports betting and the stock market, is to play the odds.

In the last 40 years, the following states have won multiple times:
IL (4), KS (3), OK (3), MI (2), TX (2), OH (2), NY (2), MN (2), VA (2), MS (2), AL (2), HI (2).
These are all states whose contestants deserve a look. It is also worth looking at the 10 most populous states, since those contestants (in theory) must beat out more competition to make it to Miss America: CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PN, OH, MI, NJ, GA. It is interesting to me that California has the most pageant winners in the entire history of the contest, but has only had one winner in the last forty years. Pennsylvania, with the third most overall winners is in the same boat. PBS also calculated for their American Experience documentary that the places producing the most winners relative to their resident populations are the District of Columbia (2), Hawaii (2), and Mississippi (4). So that’s my initial list, historically strong states and populous states. At this point, it helps to know something about how the scoring is done.

There are several rounds of scoring, according to PBS. This year the pageant is slated to undergo some changes and the Miss America Organization is not exactly forthcoming with the details of the judging, but if it’s anything like in years past, it will go something like this. Preliminary rounds will go 15% casual wear, 10% swimsuit, 15% evening gown, 30% talent, and 30% interview. This process gets us our top twenty. Then they are rated on a 1-10 scale for “Composite Attributes,” which I think just means how much the judges like them. This gets us our ten finalists. They then do the swimsuit competition over again, and the 41 non-finalists rate them on congeniality. This gets us to our top five, who must then answer a question. According to PBS, the final five are rated according to the following

  • Composite Attributes 40%

  • Swimsuit 10%

  • Evening 10%

  • Congeniality 10%

  • Talent 20%

  • Knowledge and Understanding 10%

Casual Wear, Swimsuit, and Evening Wear all amount to how hot they are, so 40% of getting to the top ten is looks, as can be judged by the pictures in the profiles. Talent and interview are difficult to judge, so I just scan bios for lines about strong academics and years of practice at their talent. If Composite Attributes is really just how much they seem like beauty queens, then hotness amounts to 60% of the final judging—a compelling reason to ignore the majority of the bios. So a glance through the photo gallery of the CMT website and a note of school and talent gives us the following picks for 2006:

  • New York (NYU—rockette/ballet)

  • California (Baptist U, Comm, Honors—piano & violin bluegrass tour)

  • Georgia (UofGA, journ—piano)

  • Michigan (local, Fulbright—cello)

  • Utah (State, journalism—piano-vocals)

  • Louisiana (Tech, accounting—piano)

  • South Carolina (Furman—voice)

  • Texas (Tech—country singer)

  • Oklahoma (UofO, elem ed—ballet)

  • Illinois (State, Nursing, Honors)

  • Backups:
  • Kentucky (Local U, English Ed—vocal)

  • New Hampshire (Syracuse, comm.—dance)

  • South Dakota (Creighton, Pharm D.)

  • Indiana (Local, comm.)

  • North Carolina (brain tumor?)

Kansas doesn’t seem to have it this year, but we will see how she handles the initial introduction before counting her out for good. You’ll notice I have fifteen listed and I’m only allowed to pick ten. I usually change two or three when we see them introduce themselves, and even though Utah doesn’t have a chance, I like her. However the bottom line, the key if you will to the killer app is this: When in doubt, pick blondes and brunettes with blue eyes.


okay, so it's 4:20am in the morning, I can't sleep and I'm googling old friends from high school. Just wanted to say hi. - jeff baxter

Oh and feel free to drop me a line - jbaxter@gwu.edu - if you like. I lost your e-mail address when you stopped using the AOL one I think. That goes for Robert as well - can't find an address for you either.

i'm sorry, does north carolina HAVE a brain tumor, or were you trying to convey something else?

North Carolina HAD a brain tumor. That's all she talks about. As far as I can tell, she didn't go to school ang has no other distinguishing talents. Her platform is stopping brain tumors. Now, having a vascular brain dysfunction myself, maybe it's kind of hypocritical and snotty to say this, but I don't think that's the way you want to set yourself apart from the competition. They don't hand out tiaras on pity.

They gave it to a deaf girl in 1995, so I think pity sometimes plays a role.

sean, this knowledge shows an unhealthy fascination with the miss america pageant. you should come watch it with us.

Indeed. How do you know that?

February 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by published on January 16, 2006 12:53 AM.

Education--That's the Ticket! was the previous entry in this blog.

Absurd Habits of Not-So-Famous Rich People is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 5.04