Congratulations are in order for Erin Brady, a 25-year-old accountant who, as Miss Connecticut, won the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas on Sunday. Brady, however, isn't the most famous contestant from Sunday evening's ceremony. That would be Melissa Powell, Miss Utah. And her success challenges the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Miss Utah's infamy is due to her answer in the questions portion of the pageant. (Watch above.) The question, from judge NeNe Leakes, was about the recent Pew study about "breadwinner moms": "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 it say about society?"
Her answer was a masterpiece of the rambling non-answer. It contains the phrase "we need to try to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem." It earned Miss Utah this quote from Billy Madison, selected by Deadspin's Timothy Burke:
What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
That's unfair, says Lisa Gutierrez at The Kansas City Star. It's not like there's an easy answer to the broad shifts in America's employment-gender-family balance. Even in the best of cases, it's easy to be "tongue-tied after being asked a really tough question in front of a worldwide audience," and these "were not cream puff questions," she adds. "What happened to those questions about world peace?"
That's all fine and good, says Mark Heim at Alabama's AL.com, but newly crowned Miss USA Erin Brady gave a "well thought out and well articulated" answer to her tough question about the Supreme Court's recent ruling on DNA testing. That the question was difficult doesn't seem like much of an excuse. Still, Powell didn't walk away empty-handed. Miss Utah won third runner-up. And, well:
— Sarah DeThomasis (@SarahDeThomasis) June 17, 2013