Miss Kentucky Elle Smith Wins the 2021 Miss USA Crown

2021 Miss USA Elle Smith. Image: Felipe Espinal/Miss USA.

Miss Kentucky Elle Smith was crowned Miss USA 2021 on Monday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, NPR reported.

Smith became the third Black woman in a row to receive the honor and the second Miss Kentucky to win the competition.

Last week, in an interview with WHAS11, Smith spoke about the possibilities of being the new Miss USA.

“A Miss USA, her job is to connect with people,” Smith said. “She should be able to speak with a three-year-old, she should be able to speak with a 90-year-old veteran or the CEO of a business, and we do that every single day at work. You’re speaking to a wide range of personalities and meeting different people with different perspectives, and so I think that’s the big thing that I take from work and then translate it to Miss Kentucky USA, which I hope I can translate to Miss USA.”

After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Political Science, Smith joined the team at Louisville ABC affiliate WHAS11 in October of 2020. Formerly, she served as vice president of the school’s National Association of Black Journalists chapter and was a reporter and videographer for various school publications. Additionally, she held multiple journalism internships in Washington, D.C., and Arkansas.

The NABJ took to Twitter to congratulate Smith on her incredible accomplishment.

“What a moment! #NABJCongrats to our very own @ellesmithtv of @WHAS11 who is the new @MissUSA !!!!!,” the tweet read.

As the winner of Miss USA, Smith will travel to Eilat, Israel to compete in the Miss Universe pageant held on Dec. 12. The international pageant will still take place although one of the contestants tested positive for COVID-19, CNN reported.

With the Omicron coronavirus variant identified in multiple countries, Israel has implemented new travel restrictions.

“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 organizers said.

Now that she has won the crown, it’s not clear whether Smith will keep her job as a journalist. According to a recent profile done by the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, it said that if Smith were to win the competition she would relocate to Los Angeles with a full salary to represent the nation for a year.

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