Elle Smith Of Kentucky Wins Miss USA 2021

By Paula Gallagher··  3 min read
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Last night’s Miss USA 2021 pageant, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has crowned its queen – Miss Kentucky Elle Smith.

Elle Smith, 23, was crowned by Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch and will travel on to Israel to compete in the Miss Universe pageant on December 12.

The runner-up is Miss North Dakota Caitlyn Vogel. She’s followed by Miss Florida Ashley Carino and Miss Illinois Sydni Bennett.

Elle Smith first graced the pageant stage on Sunday night for the State Costume Contest, in which she dressed up as a jockey in a tribute to the Kentucky Derby. She wore a blue silk blouse, white fitted pants, black riding boots, and carried a blue and white helmet and matching crop. She also wore a wreath of roses, in imitation of the wreath placed on the winning horse’s neck. The colors of her costume also honored her alma mater, the University of Kentucky. 

In the Miss USA question and answer segment, Smith stated that her "most important core value" is honesty.

She spoke further on sustainability, especially for businesses to be more environmentally conscious. 

"We've got to look at it from a macro and also a micro level," Smith said. "So at the macro level, companies need to switch to green energy — I think that's something we can all agree on."

"But then, at the micro level, we all know how to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and those are all things we can implement in our daily life," she added. 

Smith graduated from the University of Kentucky in May 2020 with a degree in broadcast journalism. While in college, she participated in the UK Student News Network, the Kentucky Kernel, WRFL and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). She served as the vice president of the NABJ during her senior year and ultimately found her job as a reporter at WHAS11, an ABC affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky, through an NABJ conference. 

In her Miss USA bio, Smith said being a journalist is "an honor and a role I take very seriously." 

The new Miss USA 2021 competed in her very first pageant this past May – and won the title Miss Kentucky 2021. 

Elle Smith commented on her first pageant win, saying, "I never walked in wanting to win. I wanted to do the best that I could but also know that I had put in the work to be there, put in all the work I needed to do to be on that stage, and I could say that. That's why I would've been happy no matter what."

After winning Miss Kentucky, Smith has continued to work full-time as a reporter as well as representing her state.

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