On Monday night, 22-year-old Asya Branch from Mississippi was crowned the winner of the 2020 Miss USA pageant during a live show that took place at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, TN.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pageant officials postponed the 2020 event for months following its original spring date. Filming of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants is typically in the spring and early summer months. However, the popular Miss USA pageant finally aired on FYI last night after months of uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus.
Branch is from Booneville, MS, and is the first African-American to win Miss Mississippi. Additionally, after winning the pageant, Branch is moving to New York City to fulfill her new duties as Miss USA.
During the final segment of the pageant, Branch discussed her stance on gun laws in front of the judges. She is an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform. In 2018, Branch attended a roundtable discussion on gun reform with President Donald Trump. In addition, the Ole Miss graduate performed the national anthem at a Trump rally in her home state the same year.
“As someone who grew up in a home with guns, I learned at an early age how to load, how to fire, and gun safety. I think that education should be available to everyone,” she said during the pageant. “I believe that we should require people to pass training and safety courses before they’re allowed to purchase a gun and before receiving a permit. And I think it’s important that we not ban guns. But, I think it’s our Second Amendment right and we just need more safety surrounding that.”
Miss USA Thinks America Can “Set a Better Example”
Previous to being crowned Miss USA, Branch answered a question about the polarization in our nation stemming from recent events.
“I think this is an issue of trust,” Branch answered. “We’ve lost trust in the systems that seem to keep our country running, from the media to business to our government. And it’s all about restoring that trust and coming together and working together to heal and trust in these systems. If we want to continue to be the greatest nation, we’re going to have to set a better example.”
Miss Idaho Kim Layne won first runner-up, and Miss Oklahoma Mariah Jane Davis won second runner-up at the pageant.
The Miss Universe Organization said in August that their competitions would air live in November. They announced the event location as The Guest House at Graceland. Furthermore, on Saturday, Nov. 7, the organization held its annual Miss Teen USA event.
The organization implemented an interactive virtual component of the pageant in addition to limited seating. Singer Haley Reinhart from “American Idol” performed virtually for the event.
“The Miss Universe Organization and the team at Graceland have created an innovative event that prioritizes the health and safety of the contestants, audience, and crew who will join us in Graceland,” said Paula M. Shugart, president of The Miss Universe Organization. “We look forward to crowning a new Miss USA and Miss Teen USA in the historic city of Memphis.”
[H/T FOX News]