The Miss South Carolina pageant 2019 kicked off at the historic Township Auditorium Tuesday with the first day of preliminary competition.
Miss Hartsville Mikeya Murphy, 24, of Dillon won the talent competition, singing “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner.
Miss Greenville Scottish Games Morgan Romano, 20, of Columbia won the evening gown competition.
Miss Yellow Jasmine Teen Kelsey Pranke, 16, of Greenville, won the talent competition with a ballet and violin performance to the “Phantom of the Opera” theme song.
Miss Columbia Teen Kellan Fenegan, 16, of Lexington, won the evening gown competition.
There are 51 contestants for Miss South Carolina — all winners of regional pageants held statewide. There are 50 contestants for Miss South Carolina Teen.
The winner of the Miss South Carolina crown will go on to compete in the Main Pop Culture Miss America Pageant this September, although the date and location is still not certain. The pageant is moving from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., to a yet to be announced venue. The broadcast is also moving from ABC to NBC.
This year, the Miss South Carolina pageant and Miss South Carolina Teen pageant are awarding $240,000 in scholarships, including $60,000 to Miss South Carolina, the highest winning scholarship in the nation and even more than the Miss America 2018 scholarship of $50,000.
Miss South Carolina Teen takes home $10,000.
Contestants for Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Teen compete on stage in three categories: talent, evening wear/question and sportswear. A fourth category — judges interviews — are conducted behind closed doors and the results are kept secret.
Of the three onstage contests, winners are only announced in two, so the audience and the contestants can’t figure out who will eventually win.
Talent carries the most weight at 35 percent, and the competition is stocked with a large number of singers and dancers. But there were some unique acts on Tuesday, including one contestant who performed the theme from “Hawaii Five-O” on a marimba.
Interviews counts for another 35 percent and fitness and evening gowns/questions count 15 percent each. Thirty-five percent of a contestant’s composite score in the preliminaries is carried over to the finals — Friday for Teen and Saturday for Miss.
This is only the second year of the sportswear competition since the Miss America organization dropped the swimsuit competition last year in a pivot called Miss America 2.0. The women and girls compete by performing an aerobic exercise.
In each category, the contestants are judged from 1 to 10 by five judges with the high and low scores thrown out. The preliminary scores will hone the competition down to 15 finalists. A 16th, called the People’s Choice, are chosen by viewers of the pageant’s live streaming broadcast at miss-sc.org.
The broadcast charge is $8.95 per night Wednesday and Thursday and $13.95 for Friday and Saturday nights. The charge for the entire week is $27.95.