It's official: Kára McCullough's reign as Miss USA is over. Now there's a new queen. Miss USA 2018 is Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers. The first runner-up is Miss North Carolina Caelynn Miller-Keyes and the second runner-up is Miss Nevada Carolina Urrea.
During The Final Word, the final three contestants were all asked the same question: "You're on your way to a march and someone hands you a blank sign and a marker. What do you put on your sign and why?" And this is when Summers really shined. As you can imagine, it is a super high pressure situation, but Miss Nebraska definitely carried herself very well during the last portion of the competition. She answered,
I say 'Speak your voice.' I don't know what march we're on our way to in this hypothetical situation, but no matter where you're going whatever type of march it is, you're obviously on your way to that march because you care about that cause. So go speak to people when they have questions. Communicate with them. Listen to their views also. That is one thing in the United States that we really need to focus on: listening to each other.
Clearly, her answer won over the selection committee.
Before her final answer, Summers stood out from the pack. When she was announced as one of the Top 15 contestants of the night, she explained more about her back story — specifically how a tough childhood experience influenced her career path.
She revealed, "I was in the children's hospital in Omaha when I was just five years old. I don't remember a whole lot of it, but I do remember my parents being really scared. I had never seen my dad scared before. My nurse was amazing and she really was who I strive to be like."
Summers shared, "I am now a certified Child Life Specialist, which is the liaison between the children and families and the medical team. It's just so empowering helping the patients understand their diagnosis, understand the different procedures, and support them through those as well." Her job as a certified Child Life Specialist later played a role in her response during the first question and answer portion of the night.
During the swimsuit portion of then night, she rocked a blue and white two piece bathing suit. Miss USA commentator Carson Kressley described her as a "blonde bombshell from the Wheat State."
Kressley also shared a very sweet anecdote: "I love that she made top fifteen because her grandfather's assisted living community is hosting a Miss USA viewing party in their BINGO room." It's safe to assume that her grandfather and his friends were happy that she made it to the Top 15, but the BINGO room had to be going crazy when she was announced as Miss USA at the end of the night.
Backstage before the evening gown competition, host Vanessa Lachey asked Summers, "Do you have a strategy for the evening gown competition?"
Summers was really in her zone. She answered, "Thinking of it as my time to shine. Taking the time I can on the stage to connect with these empowered judges in the selection committee. It's amazing. Just connecting through the cameras- as silly as it sounds- to all my friends and family back home who couldn't be here. So thank you guys for watching."
During the evening gown competition, Kressley had some pretty ironic commentary about her wardrobe selection. He revealed, "She originally had this gown made in yellow. I think that might have been a better choice. The black is dramatic for sure, but I'm just a fan of color." Clearly yellow wasn't the better choice. You can never go wrong with a black dress and it helped Miss Nebraska nab the Miss USA title.
During the first interview portion, Miss Florida Génesis Dávila asked Summers, "One in four children in the United States is in a single-parent household. How does that affect our generation's views on marriage and family?"
Even though this was not a situation that she grew up with, the topic really did resonate with Summers. She answered,
I am so grateful to have grown up in a home with two parents. Hi, parents out there. I can't personally relate to this. However, I do work in children's hospitals as a certified Child Life Specialist where I am the liaison between the children and families and the medical team. I've seen single mothers a the bedside, working remotely at their computers to stay by their children and support them. I think that it just shows the children, no matter if it's a boy or it's a girl, that they can do that.
Sarah Rose Summers made Nebraska, the patients at the children's hospital, her family, and everyone at her grandfather's assisted living facility very proud with her performance. Her personality and genuine desire to help others with this platform truly shined through. There's no doubt she deserves the Miss USA 2018 title and everything that comes with it.