The Miss USA pageant was formed in 1950 when Yolande Betheze, winner of the rival Miss America pageant, denied posing for publicity pictures in a swimsuit. Pageant sponsor Catalina went on to withdraw their sponsorship from the event and created their own competition. Other owners incorporated a subsidiary of Gulf and Western Industries, ITT Corporation, and billionaire Donald Trump, the owner who bought the pageant in 1996.
The first Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants were conducted simultaneously in Long Beach, California in 1952. The title of first Miss USA winner was bagged by Miss New York USA Jackie Loughery. There were thirty participants in the maiden year of competition, and several states did not participate each year during the first 20 years of the pageant competition. From the 1970s, every state and the DC have sent a participant every year. Alaska first participated in the year 1959 and Hawaii became the part of it in 1960. Both had sent their delegates at Miss Universe until this time.
The pageant was telecasted on CBS from 1963 until 2002, and for several years was popular for having a CBS game show host who hosted the pageant also. The show was hosted by John Charles Daly from 1963 to 1966, Bob Barker from 1967 to 1987, Alan Thicke was in the hosting platform on 1988, Dick Clark from 1989–1993, and Bob Goen took up this responsibility from 1994–1996.
The show was considered to be the best and received the highest ratings in the early 1980s, when it continuously topped the Neilsen ratings. But the viewership dropped steeply from the 1990s to the 2000s, from an anticipated viewership of 20 million to an average of 7 million from 2000–2001. In the year 2002, owner Donald Trump brokered a new contract with NBC, offering them half-ownership of the Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA and shifting them all to NBC on a primary five year contract. The pageants were first displayed on NBC in 2003.
Practically, the winner of the Miss USA title has considered as the delegates of the United States in its sister Miss Universe pageant. From its establishment to 2008, seven Miss USA titleholders have won Miss Universe title. In the mid-1960s, it was created when a Miss USA won the Miss Universe title the first runner-up took the Miss USA title for the rest of the year. This happened in 1980, 1995 and 1997. In 1967, the first runner-up gave up the title and the crown was taken over by the second runner-up Cheryl Patton. The only event where a first runner-up took over the title of Miss USA prior to this period was in 1957 when Mary Leona Gage was disqualified after being found that she was married.
Due to the support of millions of fans around the globe, the contest has evolved into a consolidated and year-round international establishment that advances and supports opportunities for young women.
These women are savvy, target-oriented and knowledgeable. The delegates, who become part of the Miss Universe Organization, manifests those characteristics in their everyday lives, competes believing advancing in careers personal and humanitarian goals and as women who want to improve the lives of others.
The Miss USA contest is more of a traditional beauty contest than the Miss America contest with no talent contest, but instead emphasizing on the swimsuit, evening gown and lastly interview which selects the semi finalists who once goes on to compete in a swimsuit and evening gown competition.
Even with the influx of money and managerial potential from Donald Trump the future of the Miss USA pageant is questionable. With the increased availability of technology the ratings have sharply slipped but there appears little doubt that this pageant will continue in some form for a long time.