Here’s how Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss America are different

Miss America involves scholarships.

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Miss America involves scholarships.
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Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions

  • Although they sound similar, Miss USA, Miss Universe, and Miss America are all different competitions.
  • Miss America is a scholarship program as well as a pageant.
  • The winner of the Miss USA pageant goes on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
  • The Miss America pageant doesn’t have a swimsuit competition but it does include a talent competition.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Although Miss USA, Miss Universe, and Miss America all beauty pageants, they are three very different competitions.

Ahead of the upcoming Miss Universe competition, Insider broke down the biggest differences between some of the world’s biggest pageants


Miss America is a scholarship program as well as a pageant.

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It focuses on innovation and talent.
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Getty Images/David Becker

When Miss America was founded, its goal was to invest in the careers and lives of women.

When it started, it only allowed white, unmarried women who had never had an abortion to compete. As of 2019, it still has specific guidelines about who can and can’t compete.

As of 2018, Miss America has gotten rid of its swimsuit competition and it will no longer judge contestants based on their “outward physical appearance,” the organization said.

In terms of prizes, in 2017 Bustle reported that the winner received a $50,000 scholarship and a six-figure salary during her 365-day tenure with the title. But it’s worth noting that the extent of the scholarships have been called into question


Miss USA is a platform for Miss Universe.

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The winner competes at Miss Universe.
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Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

According to the official website for Miss Universe, a former sponsor of Miss America (Catalina Swimsuits) founded Miss Universe and Miss USA in 1952 in Long Beach, California.

Many women choose to compete in both Miss USA and Miss America, but the two organizations are completely separate.

Miss USA also has strict requirements for entry, just like Miss America, and the show includes a swimsuit portion of the competition.

The winner of Miss USA advances to compete at Miss Universe against country winners from all over the world.


Miss Universe has no talent competition.

Unlike Miss America, which, as of 2018, focuses up to 50% of contestant scores on the competition’s talent portion, Miss Universe does not host a talent competition.

Instead, according to Miss Universe’s website, the competition starts with preliminary interviews which include an evening-gown, swimsuit, or athletic-wear presentation show.

At this time, judges choose the semifinalists who will then walk the runaway in a swimwear or athletic-wear segment.

Next up is the evening-gown segment and six competitors are chosen to move on to the final round, where they are asked a question about “various social, cultural and political topics.” Lastly, three contestants are chosen for the “Final Look.”

This pageant is also known for having a lot of contestants – in 2018, 93 women competed in the Miss Universe pageant.


Miss USA and Miss Universe are both part of an organization that was formerly owned by Donald Trump.

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He ended up selling the organization.
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Getty/Rodrigo Varela

Donald Trump used to share control of the Miss Universe organization with NBC Universal, according to The Times-Picayune.

NBC ended up backing out of their contract and Trump sold the organization to WME/IMG in 2015, per Forbes.