The Curious Case of Miss USA 2014 – Nia Sanchez’s Residency

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Since the crowning of our new Miss USA 2014 - Nia Sanchez, the subject of Nia's residency and the validity of her Miss USA title seems to be a hot topic amongst the media, the pageant community, and have recently inspired interesting commentary from a former Miss USA titleholder. Over the years, it seems that mainstream media has always relied on pageant controversies -- some warranted, others not so much -- to help fill their news segments.

This story not so much.

For years, contestants have always had the option to choose where they compete, so long as they meet certain eligibility rules. For some, the motive is to face less pageant competition. Others relocate for work, school, or family. Either way, if they establish permanent residency or attended school in a particular state, and can provide necessary documentation, they are eligible to compete in that state’s Miss USA pageant. And that was the case with Nia Sanchez.

Here are the residency rules and requirements for a Miss USA 2014 state pageant:

I satisfy at least one of the two following residency requirements:
(a) I now reside and have resided in STATE as my permanent and primary residence for a period of at least six consecutive months immediately prior to the commencement of the State Pageant (although I may have attended school, college or university on a full - time basis elsewhere). “Permanent and primary residence” means my true, fixed and permanent domicile which I intend to make my permanent home. OR ,
(b) I have resided in the STATE as a full - time student at a school, college or university and will have completed one entire semester, trimester or summer session by December 31, 2013 and will continue to reside in STATE as a full - time student at a school, college or university (although I may have spent or be spending the summer in another State).

Documents eligible for proof of residency:

Copies of supporting documents required by contract i.e. at least two of the following types of bona fide documents, at least one of which must be of document type (a) through (e):
(a) my driver’s license; (b) my voter identification or registration card; (c) my resident tax return from the most recent tax year; (d) lease or deed for a dwelling in my name (evidencing occupancy of dwelling for at least six months immediately prior to the commencement of the State Pageant); (e) employment documents in my name (Form W-2 and pay stubs only); (f) my current school records (e.g., transcript or report cards with my address); (g) telephone or utility bills in my name (both the current bill and a bill dating back at least six months immediately prior to the commencement of the State Pageant) ; and (h) bank or credit card statements in my name (both the current statement and a statement dating back at least six months immediately prior to the commencement of the State Pageant). -OR- if you reside in STATE as a full time student at a school, college or university; bona fide copies of your current school records (e.g., transcript or report cards)

Whether you agree with them or not, the fine interpretation of rules and residency requirements and adherence to them is just as much a part of modern pageantry as in other industries or competitions.

This is no different than athletes competing in the Olympics for another country such as recent gold medalists Viktor Ahn and Vic Wild, or the newly anointed Johnny "Futbol" Brooks of the US Soccer Team, or even politicians moving camp to a different state to win a congressional seat.

Nia Sanchez

Nia Sanchez at her first press conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as Miss USA 2014

Relocation for the purpose of seeking a better opportunity to succeed in life is NOT morally or ethically wrong (former LeBron fans may agree otherwise). However, if this notion doesn't agree with you, then you might as well renounce your American citizenship, burn the Declaration of Independence, and trample on the very belief of our country's forefathers.

OK...maybe I'm reaching, but as it pertains to pageantry -- and in everyday life -- relocation is a common occurrence.

For example, in my home state of Texas, several contestants have competed in other states. Just off the top of my head, I can name several states (New York, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and yes even Nevada) that have crowned young ladies who previously competed in Texas. And by virtue of those state titles, they advanced to the Miss USA stage. This happens regularly every year throughout the country.

However, just because a contestant decides to compete in a different state doesn’t mean much. After all, they still have to win the pageant, and many have not been that successful.

Recently, Miss USA 2010 - Rima Fakih blamed pageant directors and organizers, specifically Shanna Moakler (current Miss Nevada USA director and former Miss USA), for contestants crossing state lines to compete.

As a local pageant director myself, I recruit and allow contestants to compete per the terms of eligibility set forth in our contestant affidavit and limit registration to contestants living in counties in our area. I believe that every competitive pageant director seeks to recruit contestants they feel have the potential to succeed, and conversely eligible contestants wishing to work with a successful program and director will seek out that pageant to help elevate her chance to win at the next level.

Working with Shanna and her program over the past several years, I can confidently say the latter is the case here, confirmed with Nia Sanchez's title this year and Alyssa Campanella's title in 2011.

So to all you conspiracy theorists, media outlets, finger pointers, etc...sorry but there is no Miss USA controversy this year, no rules have been broken, neither contestant nor director is to blame, and there is no breaking news, unless you are trying to manufacture news pieced together from disgruntled sources.

But here IS your breaking news...

Pageant titleholders are NOT perfect, regardless of how much you want them to be.

Yes they may look flawless during their moment on stage, but they will trip over their gown, bumble during an interview, misspeak about maps and such as (clearly geography isn't a pageant girl's strongest area lol), and God forbid they will not always be a native 23-year resident of the state they represent for the Miss USA pageant.

So are we blowing this residency issue out of proportion? Let's look at this "issue" from a more practical and relatable perspective.

Specifically, let's look at the residency requirements of our own political leaders. Our own politicians have a less stringent residency requirement (you're probably not surprised lol) than contestants of Miss USA state pageants.

Article 1, Section 3, Clause 3 of the good 'ole United States Constitution specifically states:

"No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen."

...meaning one must reside in the State he or she will represent at the time of the election.

So let's consider this comparison:

  • Hillary Clinton lived in Washington DC for 8 years before moving to New York in early 2000, and on November 7, 2000 (11 months residency) she won the United State Senate election for the state of New York .
  • Nia Sanchez lived in Las Vegas, Nevada (with proof of residency) for 18 months and on June 8, 2014 (after living in Las Vegas for nearly 2 years) won the title of Miss USA 2014.

If our country's elected leaders are allowed to lead the USA with a looser set of rules, why can't we support one young, hard working American woman as she represents our country as Miss USA?

-Will the Pageant Guy


This article was written by Will the Pageant Guy

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