Miss Kentucky Elle Smith crowned Miss USA 2021

She is scheduled to represent the US in Israel to compete for the title of Miss Universe on Dec. 12.

Kentucky news reporter Elle Smith has been crowned Miss USA.

Smith, who works as a broadcast news reporter for Louisville’s WHAS-TV, was crowned Miss USA by last year’s winner, Asya Branch, at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Monday.

Smith slayed during the swimsuit and evening gown competition, and the audience loved her response to how businesses can be more environmentally conscious.

Elle Smith YouTube screenshot
Miss Kentucky Elle Smith becomes Miss USA (YouTube Screenshot)

“I think we’ve got to look at it from a macro level and also a micro level,” she said. “At a macro level, countries need to switch to green energy. I think that’s something we can all agree on. But then at the micro-level, we all know how to reduce, reuse, recycle. Those are things we can implement in our daily lives.”

Smith, a 2020 graduate of the University of Kentucky, works as a multimedia journalist for Louisville ABC affiliate WHAS11. She is the second Miss Kentucky to become Miss USA. Tara Conner won the title in 2006.

Prior to her win, Smith reflected on her Miss USA journey in a post on social media.

“A little over a year ago, I sat in bed and watched Miss USA. I remember watching @andreiagibau @sthephaniemariemiranda @mariahclayton_ and so many more incredible women grace the stage, and thinking, ‘I want to be on that stage. I want to be like them,’ ” she wrote on Instagram.

“I made that dream reality,” she added. “Now, it’s game time.”

Smith won the Miss Kentucky competition in May. It was her first pageant. She has dreamed of being a beauty queen since high school but had to wait until she had a “big-girl job” in order to afford it. 

“A Miss USA, her job is to connect with people,” Smith said in a recent interview with WHAS11. “She should be able to speak with a 3-year-old, she should be able to speak with a 90-year-old veteran or the CEO of a business, and we do that every single day at work.

You’re speaking to a wide range of personalities and meeting different people with different perspectives, and so I think that’s the big thing that I take from work and then translate it to Miss Kentucky USA, which I hope I can translate to Miss USA.”

It was not made immediately clear whether Smith will continue with her job as a journalist, but she will soon head to Israel to compete for the title of Miss Universe on Dec. 12. That’s if no further travel bans are instituted due to the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.

Israel is barring the entry of tourists for the next two weeks as researchers work to find out more.

But despite a contestant testing positive for COVID-19, organizers said the international pageant will take place as planned, CNN reports.

“The Miss Universe Organization is working with Israeli officials to continue to get our contestants and staff into the country safely for the competition,” the group said.

Have you subscribed to theGrio podcasts “Dear Culture” or “Acting Up?” Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!