Published Sunday, June 5, 2016 | 3:57 p.m.
Updated Sunday, June 5, 2016 | 10:26 p.m.
2016 Miss USA Pageant
2016 Miss USA contestants
2016 Miss USA fashion show
SPOILER ALERT: The 2016 Miss USA Pageant at T-Mobile Arena begins at 4 p.m. PT for live telecast on Fox on the East Coast. It is tape delayed in the Pacific Time zone, including here in Las Vegas, and begins airing at 7 p.m. PT. DO NOT READ THIS BLOG if you do not want to know the results before the pageant airs on Fox.
It’s baaack — the Miss USA Pageant has returned to the Las Vegas Strip after a two-year hiatus in Baton Rouge, La., and hosts Julianne Hough (“Dancing With the Stars”) and Terrence J (“106 & Park”) are leading the 52 contestants onstage at the new T-Mobile Arena.
The 52 hopefuls include Alex Miller of Oklahoma, Miss 52 USA voted on by fans online; Emelina Adams of Henderson, 2016 Miss Nevada USA; and 2016 Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber, an officer in the U.S. Army.
The Backstreet Boys, who are using the pageant to launch their national tour, Australian DJ duo and Las Vegas resident headliners Nervo and country singer Chris Young are the music acts, while fabulous plus-size model Ashley Graham is serving as backstage MC.
The last of our Miss USA preview coverage was posted this morning. Here we go!
4:12 p.m.: A video gag with Steve Harvey, who botched the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant here at Planet Hollywood in December, and Terrence opens the pageant. “Define beauty” is the theme of the video with the 52 contestants.
“Las Vegas, makes some noise!” Terrence, in a tuxedo, welcomes pageant viewers. Hough is a glittering diamond in a silver gown. Graham, in a flesh-tone gown, is introduced.
Nervo leads the introduction of the 52 pageant queens, who alternate in flirty floral and white dresses. T-Mobile Arena looks amazing on television.
4:38 p.m.: Graham talks about Miller, Miss 52 USA, of Oklahoma and how she was selected. A video of the preliminaries at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday is shown. “You’ve got to nail swimsuit, evening gown and interview to win. … It’s go time!”
Here is the Final 15: Miss South Carolina Leah Lawson, who competed on “American Idol”; redhead Miss Ohio Megan Wise, a teacher; Miss Georgia Emanii Jovan Davis, whose family is everything to her; Miss Arizona Chelsea Elizabeth Myers, who suffers anxiety and depression and loves animals; Miss Alabama Peyton Brown, who tore her knee in all-state basketball; Miss West Virginia Nichole Greene, who was raised by a single mother; and Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
There are eight women left. Commercial break!
4:56 p.m.: Hough has changed into an electric-blue pantsuit with racy top. Hot! “Who else made the cut?” Terrence teases. Miss California Nadia Grace Mejia, who loves to sing and credits Gerardo of “Rico Suave” fame; Miss Missouri Sydnee Stottlemyer, who says her dad was her first coach; Miss Connecticut Tiffany Ann Teixeira, a nurse; Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin, who received a volleyball scholarship for college; Miss South Dakota Madison McKeown, a model; Miss Arkansas Abby Floyd, who loves horses; Miss Virginia Desi Williams, a Hampton University professor; and Miss Oklahoma Taylor Gorton, a former cheerleader and aspiring TV journalist.
The Final 15! Graham interviews Miss California backstage — who was voted fan favorite, Graham tells her.
5:08 p.m.: Terrence has changed into a sharp maroon tuxedo. The judges are announced: Ali Landry, Joe Zee, Laura Brown, Nigel Barker and Crystle Stewart. 2015 Miss USA Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma is introduced, and a video of her is played. Jordan walks onstage in a white dress and talks about being Miss USA. She towers over Terrence and Hough.
5:25 p.m.: The Final 15 competes in the swimsuit category with Nervo providing the music again. It’s like a Las Vegas nightclub all up in here!
South Carolina doesn’t like to wear a lot of makeup. She’s a stunning brunette. Miss Ohio is in lavender and “an excellent walker.” Miss Georgia is in white and also one of the best walkers. Miss Arizona twisted her ankle during one of the first days of rehearsal. Miss Alabama always has a smile on her face.
Miss West Virginia wasn’t one of the early favorites and has turned the tables. Miss D.C.’s military background has been evident all week — she is disciplined. Miss California, a crowd favorite, is a model and has experience in front of the camera.
Miss Missouri competed in Miss Teen USA. Miss Connecticut is in a turquoise bikini. Miss Hawaii, also a crowd favorite, is new to pageants. Miss South Dakota is in white. Miss Arkansas also is in white. Miss Virginia is a favorite among the contestants. Miss Oklahoma is one of the shortest contestants this year.
Now to the Top 10 after a commercial break.
5:38 p.m.: Graham tells viewers at home that Alabama is at the top of the leaderboard. Terrence is in a new tuxedo — charcoal. It’s sharp. A video of contestants with their fathers is played. It’s sweet.
The Top 10: Miss Virginia Desi Williams. Miss Alabama Peyton Brown. Miss California Nadia Grace Mejia. Miss Georgia Emanii Jovan Davis. Miss Connecticut Tiffany Ann Teixeira, who is very excited. Miss D.C. Deshauna Barber. Miss Missouri Sydnee Stottlemyer. Miss Arkansas Abby Floyd. Miss South Dakota Madison McKeown, who is surprised.
And No. 10 will be announced after a commercial break.
5:43 p.m.: No. 10 is announced at 5:41 p.m. — it’s Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin, and the audience erupts. Alabama is still atop the leaderboard at home. Up next, the evening gown competition.
6:01 p.m.: Terrence is back in black, and Hough is ravishing in red with a high slit and bright red lipstick.
Chris Young, in a black button up and black denim, serenades the Top 10 in the evening gown competition with his hit “I’m Comin’ Over.” The sound is really off in the media room.
Miss Virginia is in a red silk jersey gown with white sparkling trim. Miss Alabama is a Grecian goddess in white with gold trim. Miss California is wearing a tangerine, thigh-high gown. Miss Georgia is in white with strong, sparkling silver shoulders (very “Dynasty”-esque). Miss Connecticut is reminiscent of Jessica Rabbit in red with a train.
Young returns to the stage and sings “Heartbeat.” Miss D.C. rocks gold fringe. Fringe! Miss Missouri is in white, the same gown from her state pageant. Miss Arkansas also is in white with flesh underlay. Miss South Dakota’s white gown was made in Lebanon and features a white cape and blue trim. Miss Hawaii’s white gown includes 3,500 crystals and has a train from the waist.
Now to narrow it to the Final Five.
6:10 p.m.: Alabama is still the favorite with at-home and online viewers. The Final Five: Miss Georgia Emanii Jovan Davis, Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin, Miss D.C. Deshauna Barber, Miss Alabama Peyton Brown and Miss California Nadia Grace Mejia.
6:25 p.m.: Now it’s the question round for the Final Five. Landry, who gives the Final Five advice, asks Miss Alabama about Muhammad Ali. She says to aim to achieve success like Ali. Miss D.C. is asked by Zee about the Pentagon opening all jobs to women. “As a woman in the United States Army …,” she begins to thundering applause. She says the she is powerful and dedicated and that gender doesn’t limit her. Nailed it!
Stewart asks Miss Georgia about voting. She says to educate students about voting. Barker asks Miss California about social and economic inequality. She says to stop segregation between rich and poor. She pauses, visibly flustered, and is cheered on by the crowd. Brown asks Miss Hawaii about Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. She says that the next president needs to represent America.
I predict that it is between District of Columbia and Hawaii. After the commercial break, the Top Three and The Backstreet Boys.
6:29 p.m.: The Top Three: Miss Georgia Emanii Jovan Davis, Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin and Miss D.C. Deshauna Barber.
6:39 p.m.: It’s the final word from the Top Three in 60 seconds. The question: “Define confidently beautiful.” Miss Georgia says, “Knowing who you are. Your flaws makes you beautiful.” Miss Hawaii says, “Someone who is beautiful … serves and cares for others.”
Miss D.C. says, “It’s not always about your parents, about who you are around. It’s about earning respect no matter what you look like. I’m a woman in the U.S. Army. I’m strong, small and powerful — I’m confidently beautiful.”
6:48 p.m.: Terrence is now in a white tuxedo, and Hough is in black. The Backstreet Boys sing “As Long As You Love” for the Top Three’s final walk. The five Boys are in light gray and dark gray suits. Much of the audience sings along.
6:49 p.m.: The Top Three walk onstage to “I Want It That Way” as Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean and Howie Dorough of BSB serenade them. Much of the audience again sings along.
7 p.m.: Jordan, of Tulsa, Okla., makes her final walk in a va-va-va-voom champagne gown. The second runner-up is … long pause … Miss Georgia Emanii Jovan Davis. The first runner-up is ... long pause again ... Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin, and the new Miss USA is Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber.
Check out our Q+A with Barber posted Friday. And check back Monday for our post-pageant report, photo gallery and video.
Don Chareunsy is the Las Vegas Sun’s entertainment and luxury senior editor and has been a journalist for nearly two decades.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.