Oklahomas Olivia Jordan was crowned Miss USA on 15 July, capping weeks of controversy in the run-up to the annual beauty pageant after its co-owner Donald Trump made incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants while announcing his run for president.
Several judges, guests and the events hosts all backed out after the real estate mogul described some migrants from Mexico to the US as drug-runners and rapists while announcing in June he was seeking the Republican nomination.
Still beaming from her win, Jordan described what it felt like to win the title of Miss USA.
Im grateful that it was me. Im grateful it was my year and that whatever I did, that the judges saw it. I truly was focused on living in the moment and enjoying the experience. So I had the best time on that stage. I really did. I had so much fun and I knew that at the end of the night I was going to hug my family and they were going to be proud of me and that was enough for me in that moment. Obviously, I wanted the crown, 100%. That was why I was in this process because I wanted this title and I wanted everything that comes along with it. And I was so grateful that it all worked out. Its crazy.
Jordan did not shy away from the controversy surrounding Donald Trump.
I respect Trump as a businessman. He has created a great fortune for himself. He has really built an empire and thats impressive. Im impressed by people who hustle really hard and can have great success in life. And thats something that I aspire to do. I aspire to work very hard and have great success. I hope that I can really use that to give back to the world, she said.
Jordan also said: I think that Donald Trump running for president is unrelated to what the pageant is about. I think that we got caught in a political crossfire and it is what it is. He has the right to have opinions and hes talking about issues that are important. Immigration is an important issue. It is something that we should be talking about and its good to have those kinds of conversations. I think that the pageant ultimately stands for diversity. Its been standing for that for the past 64 years. It has brought so many cultures together through the Miss Universe Organization and has given women of all cultures, of all backgrounds an opportunity to shine. And I think that this year in Baton Rouge, it was the epitome of that and I was grateful to be part of it.
During the Miss USA pageant, several of the top 15 finishers spoke of their Latin American heritage, including Rhode Islands Anea Garcia, who was raised by her grandmother, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. Garcia came in third among 51 contestants.