The beauty queens vying for the title of Miss USA 2014 could strut and preen in their evening gowns and bikinis all they wanted—but it's the ballyhooed Q&A portion of the evening that can make or break a reputation.
At least as far as the Internet is concerned.
The pressure was ratcheted up this year just a bit after a montage of past memorable (and memorably silly) answers was played before this year's six finalists took the stage.
The top six—Miss George, Miss Nevada, Miss Louisiana, Miss North Dakota, Miss Iowa and Miss Florida—answered an interesting array of questions ranging in topic and breadth, chosen at random by picking a judge's name out of the jar and having to answer that judge's prepared question.
Who nailed it and who may have flubbed her big moment at the Baton Rouge Civic Center tonight? You be the judge!
1. Miss Iowa, Carlyn Bradarich: The winner of the Twitter-approved #SavetheQueen vote, which gave her the coveted sixth spot, was first up and she fielded a question from judge Melissa Peterman about whether she would agree that, as a recent New York Times story suggested, "narcissim is an epidemic" and America's youth today are turning into a "hyper-entitled, self-absorbed generation."
Her response: "I actually do agree with that. I think social media and technology has allowed the youth to post pictures of themselves and videos of themselves. That kinda, to me, seems narcissistic."
2. Miss North Dakota, Audra Mari: Judge Allie LaForce wanted to know if she still thought college was relevant in this day and age considering how hard it is to get a job after graduation, combined with the soaring costs of education.
Her response: "I do think going to college is relevant at this point. I know my parents' generation, there was are a lot of people who are extremely successful who never did get a college degree, but in this day and age I know it's extremely hard to find a job, even after four years of college. So I do think it's extremely important to go and get your education and, I guess, further your education after high school."
3. Miss Florida, Brittany Oldehoff: Judge Randy Couture wanted to know what set her apart from the other finalists and why she should be crowned Miss USA.
Her response: "Well, I have to tell you that being up here is an honor to be with these women. They are absolutely phenomenal and I've really gotten to know them over the past couple weeks. However, I think that I'm bringing something new to the table. My father passed away with complications of Crohn's [disease] and colitis, and I'd really love to bring that forward, and raise money and awareness, and bring it home for my dad."
4. Miss Nevada, Nia Sanchez: Judge Rumer Willis noted a disturbing statistic about sexual assaults among college students and asked why she thought such crimes have been "swept under the rug for so long" and what colleges can do to combat that—a question the Taekwondo expert (and ultimate winner) answered with a personal touch.
Her response: "I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don't want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that's something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women."
5. Miss Louisiana, Brittany Guidry: The audibly apparent hometown favorite fielded the most up-to-the-minute current event question of the night, a politically charged offering from judge Ian Ziering about whether the government was right to release five Guantanamo Bay prisoners in exchange for American POW Bowe Bergdahl.
Her response: "I am glad that we got our guy back. However, I do not feel it is right that we subject ourself to these acts of terrorism. I do agree with our guy being back but, however, I do not think that we should subject ourselves."
6. Miss Georgia, Tiana Griggs: Judge Karl Malone gave her 30 seconds to say anything she wanted to our political leaders.
Her response: "I say that we should lead our country by faith. For me, I know that when I go to bed at night I pray for my family as well as the leaders of the country. I think if we pull together and work together, we are able to make more of a difference than setting ourselves apart. That's what I would say."
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Who do you think won the Q&A portion of the pageant? Sound off in the comments!