Miss Universe, Miss USA, & Miss America: The Difference Is All In The Swag

While channel surfers and pageants lovers alike will tune into the Miss Universe competition Sunday, Dec. 20 on FOX, most viewers might be a little confused about a few aspects of the competition. Who competes: Miss USA or Miss America? Is it a scholarship program? Is Miss Universe affiliated with Donald Trump? And, what's the difference between Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss America?

Miss USA 2015, Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma, will be representing the United States this weekend, as the Miss USA pageant always feeds into Miss Universe. While Miss America and Miss USA have similar names, the organizations have pretty different beginnings. According to the International Business Times, the main difference between the franchises is that Miss America started as a scholarship program, while the Miss USA program was founded by Catalina Swimsuits to promote the company, and its grand prize has always been eligibility in Miss Universe. Though both competitions do award scholarships to the winners today, Miss America only wins a large scholarship and Miss USA wins a shot at Miss Universe, a scholarship, and perks — like jewelry and a luxury apartment during her reign. (In the past this apartment has been in Trump Tower in New York City.)

Donald Trump, yes that Donald Trump, was the owner of the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe pageants from 1996 until this past September. Following his controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants, Trump sold the pageants to WME/IMG.

“I have truly enjoyed owning the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants," Trump said at the time. "When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble. It has been a great honor making them so successful, and I have really enjoyed watching the pageants grow throughout the USA and worldwide. The pageants are now in the hands of a great company that will shepherd them to even greater levels of success.”

And, how do other places select Miss Universe contestants? Local organizations approved by the Miss Universe Organization select contestants and host local competitions.

So, how will Miss USA winner and Miss Universe hopeful Olivia Jordan fair? We’ll just have to tune in this weekend and find out! USA! USA! USA!