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TULSA, Okla. — A Kentucky journalist who only recently competed in her first pageant has won Miss USA. Elle Smith, a multimedia journalist from Louisville, was crowned Miss USA on Monday evening.

The former winner of Miss Kentucky, Miss Smith only competed for the first time last May. According to the new pageant representative for the United States, she was waiting until she could afford the fees and other expenses associated with the pageant competition.

Miss Smith is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. While a student, she represented Black Girl Magic by being elected vice president of the University of Kentucky’s National Association of Black Journalists. 

Miss Smith also held a number of journalism internships while in school. She was both a journalist and content creator for the University of Kentucky’s newspaper during her time as a student. 

Miss Smith will represent the United States for one year following her win, during which the crowd showered her with roaring applause. She is slated to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in December. 

Meanwhile, the Miss Universe’s host country of Israel has imposed limitations on travelers due to the recent Omicron variant of the Covid19 virus. One contestant has already tested positive for Covid19, putting the pageant at risk for being canceled altogether.

According to the Miss Universe group where Miss Smith is planning to compete, “The Miss Universe Organization is working with Israeli officials to continue to get our contestants and staff into the country safely for the competition.” 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...