Miss Anderson Lanie Hudson was crowned Miss South Carolina 2014 Saturday night at the Township Auditorium after a week of blood, sweat, tears and glitter.
In front of a packed house and a live television audience, Miss South Carolina 2013 Brooke Mosteller passed the crown and a hefty $15,000 scholarship to Hudson out of 51 contestants who strived to find their way into the hearts of judges.
First runner-up and a $10,000 scholarship went to Miss Boiling Springs Lauren Cabaniss. Second runner-up and a $7,500 scholarship went to Miss Fountain Inn Daja Dial. Third runner-up and a $5,000 scholarship went to Miss Greenville Scottish Games Kelly Ragan.
Here’s how the night led up to the last lady standing.
Week in review: The show opened with a sentimental video showing the contestants hugging, laughing, snapping selfies in front of landmarks and eating at McDonald’s (probably for the first time in a while judging by the swimsuit segment) throughout their stay in Columbia. It was a touching moment, but a brutal segue into what came next: The elimination of more than half of those happy, carefree, McDonald’s-eating ladies.
The first cut: The contestants filling the risers onstage were quickly chiseled away to 16 semifinalists. Hosts told the audience that now, the only thing that mattered from previously in the week was the onstage interviews at 35% of a contestants’ final score. It meant that in the talent, swimsuit and evening gown segments of the competition, the remaining ladies had to start from scratch.
Dial up the heat: After watching the slow and painful shattering of dozens of dreams, the swimsuit competition was just what the audience needed. Since every girl to take the stage in a classy yet sexy two-piece was flawless as far as looks went, it was the way the ladies carried themselves that set them apart. There was something about the way Miss Fountain Inn Daja Dial turned on that catwalk, with a quick, sassy whip of her arm and neck, that made the crowd go “Oooo.”
In the hot seat: As the final five were announced, each lady had to proceed to centerstage and draw a judge’s name out of a hat. Each judge was armed with questions on hot-button issues of “equal difficulty.” For contestants, success was based on the ability to stealthily avoid taking too strong a stance on either side of an issue.
Miss Greenville Scottish Games Kelly Ragan supported NSA surveillance on American citizens, calling it a necessary evil to sacrifice certain rights for the greater good of security. She didn’t answer whether she felt that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was in the wrong.
Miss Anderson Lanie Hudson still got the crown after the most morally challenging question of the night which, referencing a recent law that prohibited protesters from getting too close to an abortion clinic, boiled down to a simple “should people be allowed to protest abortions?” Hudson said that she was all for protecting citizens’ freedom of speech, threw in some American pride jargon and flashed a smile. Nicely done.
Most impressively, Miss Fountain Inn Daja Dial, when asked if she supported the legalization of marijuana, made a reference to prohibition. Points for historical knowledge. Then, she said that she could see the similarities with marijuana and that our country was “headed in that direction.”