Miss Utah represents

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On Sunday night I was enjoying game five of the NBA Finals, unaware of what was taking place during the Miss USA beauty pageant. When I turned on the news Monday morning, I was mortified, and I’m not even from Utah.

After making it to the top five, the now infamous Miss Utah, Marissa Powell, stepped up to answer the first question during the interview portion of the contest. Needless to say, she bombed it, and it was epic.

Powell was asked this question: “A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”

The top five Miss USA finalists pose onstage during the Miss USA 2013 pageant, Sunday, June 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jeff Bottari)
The top five Miss USA finalists pose onstage during the Miss USA 2013 pageant, Sunday, June 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jeff Bottari)

You would think Powell would respond with an answer that went along the lines of gender inequality in our country. Nope. We got this instead:

“I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive (insert elaborate and awkward pause here) to figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem, and I think especially the men are seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to try to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”

Real life. She actually used the phrase “create education better” in her answer that had nothing to do with the question. And it got worse.

Twitter blew up. Miss Utah’s performance was trending on Twitter over the NBA Finals, which is a joke in and of itself. The next few days consisted of appearances on shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live and the Today Show.

As much as I cringed while listening to her answer, I have to give her props. It’s not easy to publicly humiliate yourself and the state you are representing on a national stage. If it had been me, I might have sat down right then and there and just cried.

I’m sure Powell shed a few tears when the cameras weren’t rolling, but I have respect for her and how she has handled failure. She could have come back to Salt Lake City to hide, maybe even washed off the two pounds of makeup drowning her face and hung up the sash forever. Instead, she made herself available to the public and owned up to her terribly worded response.

She is going to be remembered by that one instance for the rest of her life. If you don’t believe me, ask Bill Buckner what one publicized mistake can do to a legacy. But the cool thing about Miss Utah is that she is laughing at herself.

I do feel bad that this event has shed a negative light on the state of Utah and somewhat on BYU (even though the extent of Powell’s time as a Cougar consisted of taking a couple of music classes a few semesters back), but at least Miss Utah isn’t shying away from the negative press.

I’m not a fan of pageantry, but I do appreciate Miss Utah’s ability to make light of her mistake. I guess if you are going to mess up that badly, the most honorable thing you can do at that point is be positive about it.

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