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Top 10 Beauty Pageant Fails

Beauty pageant fails show us that while many women are prepared for the interview questions and talent sections, not all of them are... and when they aren't, it's hilarious.

Sometimes, beauty and brains are mutually exclusive. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 American beauty pageant fails.

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#10 – The Force Is Not with Her

We’ve watched enough pageants to know the talent portion is tricky: no matter how good you are, tap-dancing and baton twirling is not hip. Never was this more obvious than at 1993’s Miss Arizona competition, when Stacy Hedger attempted to woo Star Wars nerds with an off-key disco rendition of the theme. On the trumpet. With dancing. And she’s not the only one with a bizarre talent.

#9 – The United States of Hawaii

Things start off so well for Miss Hawaii Nadine Tanega, when she’s asked why she’s proud to be an American. But you can pinpoint the moment where she falls off the rails. There it is. When Alan Thicke mocks you, you know you’re in trouble. She must be in that one-fifth of U.S. Americans that don’t have maps. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Give it a minute…

#8 – Prostitutes are the Paradigm of Purity

When Miss Ohio Audrey Bolte was asked at the 2012 Miss USA pageant about the portrayal of women in the media, she spit out the first thing that came to mind, and the beginning of her answer is almost passable. Until… Is Pretty Woman the most bizarre film choice? No, but it’s up there. Especially if you’re glossing over the fact that Julia Roberts’ character is, well, a hooker.

#7 – The Courage of Her Convictions

Healthcare in the United States is a contentious issue, and no one knows that better than Miss Arizona Alicia-Monique Blanco. At the 2009 Miss USA pageant, she was asked whether healthcare should be a benefit of citizenship to the country. Somehow, Blanco turned it into a matter of right-or-wrong, and avoided mentioning healthcare in any way, shape or form during her response. But such conviction!

#6 – Crack-Pot Scientific Theories

Was this question designed to trip up contestants? The 2011 Miss USA competitors were asked a series of pre-interview questions that ranged from “would you use an online dating site” to “what’s your opinion on nude photo shoots?” So the query about evolution being taught in schools was outta left field. Answers varied, but far too many agreed that schools shouldn’t teach so-called “theories.” So math’s out too, then?

#5 – Equal Opportunity Nonsense

As long as there have been beauty contests, there have been beautiful girls misspeaking their minds. During 1995’s Miss USA competition, Miss Minnesota Angelique de Maison was asked: “do you think that your career prospects would be affected if affirmative action were dismantled?” Long story short: affirmative action has to do with equal opportunity employment. But Miss Minnesota clearly doesn’t know that, as evidenced by the wide-eyes and repeat request. She soon regains her composure to give a completely clumsy and inappropriate response.

#4 – An Inoculation for Idiocy?

We’ll start this one by giving credit where credit is due: more pageant contestants should admit they don’t know or understand if that’s the case. Fortunately for Miss California Leah Cecil, this interview took place before the 2013 Miss America pageant. Unfortunately, cameras were rolling anyway when she was asked about her opinion on the legalization of euthanasia. We’re guessing by now she’s an expert on the subject.

#3 – Wage Parity Hilarity

You’d think by now these girls would focus more on interview prep: but alas, at 2013’s Miss USA pageant, Miss Utah Marissa Powell figuratively face-planted when asked why women still earn less than men. After a gibberish-laden run-on, Powell admits defeat and flashes the “I have no idea where I’m going with this” smile. Then it gets worse. All’s well that ends well, though: she won Miss Photogenic.

#2 – Marriage Inequality

Controversy reigned at 2009's Miss USA pageant, where the girls were asked fairly politicized questions. But none got as much press as Miss California Carrie Prejean when she was probed by openly gay personality Perez Hilton about same-sex marriage. Prejean’s entitled to her opinion, but she bombed because she didn’t sympathize with everyone she was competing to represent. And we didn’t even mention “opposite” marriage. Or the sex tapes…

#1 – Truth, Justice & the U.S. American Way

Miss South Carolina Caitlin Upton’s is the face that launched a thousand memes. It’s 2007’s Miss Teen USA competition, and Upton’s asked why one-fifth of Americans can’t find the United States on a map. What follows is a string of buzzwords, whargarble and random references to South Africa and “Thuh Eye-raq.” Btw, we’ve never found “such as” on a map… Kudos to Mario Lopez for keeping it together.

Do you agree with our list? Which beauty pageant trainwreck could you not look away from? For more top 10s about your favorite pop culture topics, be sure to subscribe to

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