Miss Kentucky Elle Smith crowned Miss USA 2021

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Crowning Moment: MISS USA 2021 : Elle Smith of Kentucky
Crowning Moment: MISS USA 2021 : Elle Smith of Kentucky

Pageant of The Universe Miss Kentucky Elle Smith wins Miss USA 2021

She's beauty and she's grace. She's Miss United States.

Miss Kentucky Elle Smith, a reporter for WHAS11 News in Louisville, has walked away with the crown at the 2021 Miss USA pageant. Smith will now represent the U.S. in the Miss Universe pageant, which will be held Dec. 12 in Eilat, Israel.

The WHAS11 News team congratulated their colleague after her victory on Monday night. "WOW!!! This is quite the accomplishment!!" the team's tweet reads. "Our Elle Smith is your new MISS USA!"

Smith also posed for a video released on the official Miss USA Instagram page celebrating her win.

She succeeds Asya Branch, who won Miss USA in 2020. Branch took the stage during the ceremony on Monday at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Okla. to place the tiara on top of Smith's head.

Miss Illinois Sydni Bennett came in fourth place, Miss Florida Ashley Carino came in third, and Miss North Dakota Caitlyn Vogel came in second.

This year's pageant was the first to see a transgender woman compete, but the contestant, Miss Nevada Kataluna Enriquez, was eliminated fairly early on in the competition before the final 16 were selected.

The Miss Universe pageant will proceed as planned, despite one of the contestants testing positive for COVID-19. The organization behind the pageant issued a statement on the matter that reads, in part, "The Miss Universe Organization is working with Israeli officials to continue to get our contestants and staff into the country safely for the competition."

Miss Universe released a behind-the-scenes video of the contestants during "the first of many hair and makeup stops."

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