Who is Miss USA 2021? Elle Smith is from Germantown and is a multimedia journalist for Louisville ABC affiliate WHAS11. She is 24 and a 2020 journalism graduate of the University of Kentucky where she was vice-president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Miss USA 2021 finalists and semi-finalists
Second runner-up (or third place as they rather confusingly announced it) was Florida's Ashley Cariño Barreto, which made FL the most successful state pairing this year, after Breanna Myles won Miss Teen USA 2021 two days previously. Third runner-up was Sydni Dion Bennett of Illinois who also equalled her Miss Teen USA placement. Sydni was a Teen finalist in 2018. Alas for those of us who like nice tidy pageant stats there was only a top four instead of a top five this year. What did you think of that change?
The rest of this year's top eight, left to right above, were Madison Bryant (North Carolina), Victoria Hinojosa (Texas), Marley Stokes (South Carolina) and Layilah Nasser (Maryland).
The remaining semi-finalists were Gracie Hunt (Kansas), Tanya Crowe (Louisiana), Bailey Mae Anderson (Mississippi), Erika Etzelmiller (Nebraska), Caroline Pettey (South Dakota) , Elizabeth Graham Pistole (Tennessee), JessiKate Riley (Utah) and Christina Thompson (Virginia).
- This was the first time in the 70 year history of the pageant that both Dakotas made the cut. This was only ND's fifth placement - they have made the top 5 or 6 each of those times. SD has also only placed five times, three of those in the last six years. See North Dakota and South Dakota Miss & Teen USA titleholder history pages.
- Of the eight former Teen titleholders competing at Miss USA this year, five made the cut: Caitlyn Vogel, Sydni Dion Bennett, Marley Stokes, Erika Etzelmiller and Christina Thompson. Of the five only Erika (NE) had not placed at Miss Teen USA.
- This was Kentucky's first top four/five placement since 2009 (& only their second placement since then).
- Florida last made the top four/five in 2018 and Illinois in 2017.
- Maryland has made the cut 8 of the last 11 years, easily their best string of placements since the 1960s.
- South Carolina made the cut again after their longest period of non-placements since the 1990s (only three; it is SC after all!)
- Like SC, former powerhouse states Texas and Tennessee have been going through a dry patch as well. This was only Texas' second placement in the last 6 years and TN's third placement since 2014.
- Kansas placed for the second time since 2010, with Gracie following her mum Tavia by getting the call at Miss USA.
- Louisiana is on a three-year streak, recording their 7th placement in the last decade.
- Mississippi had only placed three times between 1990 and Asya's win last year - Bailey made that back-to-back placements!
- Nebraska broke a 30-year drought in 2010, and this was their third placement since then. All three of those subsequent placements, including Sarah Summers' win in 2018, have been by former Miss NE Teen USA titleholders.
- Utah ended their longest drought since the 1980s/90s with their first placement since 2013. JessiKate was the only former Miss America contestant to make the cut this year.
- Virginia placed for the first time since 2016; like Gracie, Christina is also the daughter of a former Miss USA contestant.
- Florida, Maryland, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska and Utah also placed at Miss Teen USA this year. This was the first time ever that both Nebraska titleholders made the cut in the same year.