Army logistics commander Deshauna Barber, Miss D.C. newly crowned Miss USA
Army logistics commander Deshauna Barber, Miss D.C. newly crowned Miss USA
This year’s newly crowned Miss USA has both beauty and brains in spades – and has also served her country.
Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber will go on to compete in the Miss Universe contest as the winner of Sunday’s 2016 Miss USA competition held at the T-Mobile Arena off the Las Vegas Strip.
Barber, who works as an IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. as well as a Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, broke down in tears as she won.
The 26-year-old, whose mother, father, brother and sister have also served in the army, claimed the title after giving a strong answer when asked about women in combat, saying that gender doesn’t limit women in America.
Barber said that women are just as tough as men during the question-and-answer segment, adding: ‘As a commander of my unit, I’m powerful, I am dedicated. Gender does not limit us in the United States.’
Now, Barber, who is the first-ever member of the military to win Miss USA, says she’ll be taking a break from the Army Reserves to juggle her new duties. She said her current Army commitment is two days per month but that there’s great flexibility with the Reserves.
Barber says she will use her year with the title supporting veteran’s causes and hopes to tackle the issue of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder among military members.
She also said the presidential candidates, including former pageant owner and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, should focus more on veteran’s issues instead of discussing unimportant topics.
Previously, Barber has said that joining the military was the ‘greatest decision’ she has ever made and while she has not yet been deployed overseas, if President Obama asked her to fight in Iraq, she would jump at the opportunity.
‘I’d be there in a heartbeat,’ she told the Las Vegas Sun. ‘That’s what I signed up for 10 years ago, and that’s a commitment that I still stand on today.’
‘I think that when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. If your life happens to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country, I think it’s the best way.’
Barber was born in Columbus, Georgia, but has lived in multiple states due to her father’s military career before settling in Washington, D.C. Barber’s father served in the Special Forces for 24 years and that’s how he met her mother, who was also in the military.
‘My siblings and I knew when we graduated from high school that we wanted to join,’ she added.
Barer said she joined at 17, while her brother and sister enlisted at 18 right straight out of high school.
‘I ended up going through the ROTC program at university and commissioned to be officer in the United States Army in 2011. It’s been the greatest decision I’ve ever made,’ she said.
She graduated Virginia State University with a degree in business management and joined the army as a quartermaster officer in 2011. She now works as an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce and is also an army logistics commander.
Barber’s passion is to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, specifically focusing her platform on PTSD treatment for soldiers returning from deployments overseas and suicide prevention in the armed forces, according to her bio on the Miss Universe website.
Ahead of the show on Sunday night, Barber took to Instagram to share a picture of herself backstage, captioned: ‘No matter happens in 2.5 hours, I am thankful to have represented the District Of Columbia and Military Service Women around the world on the Miss USA stage.
She added: ‘The stereotype for Women In The Military is OFFICIALLY BROKEN. The stereotype for Pageant Women is OFFICIALLY BROKEN *Drops Mic*’
Deshauna Barber, pictured with her father, brother and sister, who all joined the military. Barber joined when she was 17
Barber’s father (pictured) served in the Special Forces for 24 years and that’s how he met her mother, who was also in the military
Coming in second was Miss Hawaii Chelsea Hardin, who punted at the contest when asked who she would vote for among the likely presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton or former pageant owner Donald Trump, a Republican.
The 24-year-old college student from Honolulu acknowledged that there was no way to correctly answer the question during the beauty pageant. It was framed with Clinton’s likely status of being the first woman nominated by a major political party for the White House.
Hardin responded that gender doesn’t matter when deciding the next commander in chief, simply saying the new president should push for what’s right for the country.
The final three was rounded out by Miss Georgia, Emanii Jovan Davis, who gave an answer about educating youth when asked about recent policy measures that some say makes it harder to vote.
Earlier in the contest, Miss California moved the Miss USA contest by admitting her battle with anorexia but failed to make the top three leaving Georgia, Hawaii and D.C. battling for the crown.
Nadia Grace Mejia, 20, the daughter of a 1990s one-hit-wonder singer called ‘Rico Suave’, had made it to the final five, but stumbled and paused repeatedly when answering her question on economic inequality.
The three-hour event was broadcast on Fox network. Last year, the show had aired on cable’s Reelz network.
It came after a series of controversies last year with the beauty pageant organization, including a breakup with former owner Trump and a mistaken crowning of Miss Universe by Steve Harvey.
The incident was referenced at the moment of truth – with Julianne Hough jokingly refusing to be the one to make the announcement and Jenkins saying a little prayer before revealing the winner.
At the start of Sunday’s show, Steve Harvey made a cameo in a video to poke fun of the Miss Universe crowning that he botched in December.
In the clip, Harvey is seen helping host Jenkins prepare for the show. After handing Jenkins a cue card, he tells him to practice reading the winner’s name.
‘And the winner is… Miss Colombia?’ Jenkins says.
‘What’d I just tell you?’ Harvey admonishes him. ‘I said, ‘Don’t say Miss Colombia.
‘They handed me a card. I said, ‘When they hand you the card, don’t say Miss Colombia.’ Listen to me, Terrence. Don’t say it.’
After the show, Harvey congratulated Barber on Twitter and joked: ‘Soooooooo – I was a few months early with my announcement and forgot ‘District of’.
Fifty-two contestants took part in the 2016 Miss USA competition at the T-Mobile Arena off the Las Vegas Strip. In addition to contestants representing each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the pageant also named a ‘Miss 52 USA.’
Alexandra Miller, a 26-year-old from Oklahoma City, got the most fan votes among a group of finalists chosen by the organization.
The winner of Sunday’s pageant will compete in the Miss Universe contest.
A year ago the brash billionaire and now presumed Republican candidate for president set off an ugly break up with The Miss Universe Organization, then co-owned by Trump and NBCUniversal.
Trump offended Hispanics last June when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his bid for the White House.
NBC, which had aired the pageant since 2003, quickly cut business ties with Trump and refused to carry the 2015 show it had already scheduled.
Spanish-language network Univision also pulled out of the broadcast for what would have been the first of five years airing the pageants.
Trump then sued both Univision and NBC.
He settled with NBC in September. Trump’s $500 million lawsuit against Univision claimed his First Amendment rights were violated, as well as claiming a breach of contract. That dispute was eventually settled, too.
The talent management company WME/IMG then acquired The Miss Universe Organization.
During the Miss Universe pageant in December, host Steve Harvey mistakenly named the Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo the winner before correcting himself on the stage. Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines was then given the crown.
Officials later said it was due to human error. The talk show host said he had re-read the card and noticed it said ‘first runner-up’ next to the Colombia contestant’s name before clarifying with producers his mistake.
That Miss Universe contest was also held in Vegas, at the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino.