How Miss USA Was Crowned in Chaos

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By Ketrin Agustine

How Miss USA Was Crowned in Chaos

Producer/Director Nicole Rittenmeyer
Co-Producer Leah Harari
Producer/Reporter Lauren Herstik

Watch our new documentary on FX and Hulu starting Friday, Sept. 29, at 10 p.m. Eastern.

The two finalists of the 71st Miss USA pageant in Reno, Nev., stood facing each other, smiling, linking arms and fluttering with anticipation over which of them would be crowned Miss USA 2022.

Normally when the winner is called, the other contestants rush to the front of the stage to celebrate with her. But when Miss Texas received the crown, the other contestants walked off the stage, gliding past her without stopping to offer congratulations. Something was amiss.

In the days that followed, Miss USA and its parent company, Miss Universe, were swirling in allegations of rigging, favoritism and sexual harassment.

“You have this organization that claims to be about women’s empowerment,” the reporter Lauren Herstik says in this new documentary from The New York Times. “And then they’re really not walking the walk.”

“How to Fix a Pageant” explores the history of the once-revered pageant institution, and how it became plagued by scandals.

We hear from former judges, directors and contestants, many of whom long dreamed of becoming title winners. And Crystle Stewart, a former Miss USA who served as president of the national franchise, responds publicly for the first time about the allegations of rigging at the 2022 event.

To the contestants who raised concerns about various aspects of the Miss USA pageant, including allegations of sexual harassment, Ms. Stewart said she wanted to “commend them for using their voice and coming together, because it showed people that if you unify, and work together, how it can amplify your voice.

“But they used it for the wrong reason.”

Left Right Productions/The New York Times/Hulu Originals/FX Networks
Left Right Productions/The New York Times/Hulu Originals/FX Networks

Supervising Producer Liz Hodes
Directors of Photography Jarred Alterman and Samuel Bradley
Video Editors Geoff O’Brien and Dan Shulman-Means


“The New York Times Presents” is a series of documentaries representing the unparalleled journalism and insight of The New York Times, bringing viewers close to the essential stories of our time.

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