The Miss USA organization has been around since 1952 and has its headquarters in Los Angeles.
It has been known as one of the most popular traditions in popular American culture for quite some time, giving rise to superstars of several different ethnicities and from several different walks of life.
This year’s contest was won by Elle Smith, an African American reporter from Kentucky who served as the vice-president of the school’s National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) chapter.
Her win has been contrasted with another newsworthy event that happened during this year’s event, however: the presence of the first ever openly transgender Miss USA contestant, Kataluna Enriquez, who made headlines worldwide with her foray into the world of high stakes beauty pageants.
Enriquez, who is 27 years old and was born in 1995, was celebrated in her home state of Nevada earlier in the day, as Governor Steve Sisolak tweeted in support of her run just prior to the November 29 contest.
Tonight, we are rooting for Miss Nevada Kataluna Enriquez. Your story as the first openly transgender woman to compete in Miss USA is inspiring – thank you for representing the Silver State!
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) November 30, 2021
Enriquez was eliminated before the round of 16 during the Miss USA pageant, however.
Her finish prompted responses from media and politicians.
“Kataluna is making history as the first openly transgender woman to compete in Miss USA, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to represent the Silver State,” said Senator Jacky Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada.
In June, Enriquez outperformed 21 other contestants at the South Point Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, taking home the Miss Nevada crown in her adopted hometown.
In March, Enriquez spoke about being trans at a pageant in Nevada.
“Today I am a proud transgender woman of color.
“Personally, I’ve learned that my differences do not make me less than, it makes me more than,” she said according to the Vegas Review-Journal.
“I know that my uniqueness will take me to all my destinations, and whatever I need to go through in life.”
She said that she received a lot of support during her run for the title, and had the following to say about others’ beliefs in her.
“Everyone is always saying, ‘you’re courageous,’” she continues.
“And I understand that. But to me, I just want to live.”