Miss Utah Marissa Powell gives cringe-worthy answer

She fielded a tough query at Sunday's Miss USA pageant. But in many ways, it was an unfair question.

By Kim Peterson Jun 17, 2013 12:55PM
It can be tough for anyone to explain the gender wage gap. So why is Miss Utah getting slammed for her stammering, loopy comments on this issue Sunday night?

Marissa Powell was getting mocked from all corners Monday for her struggle to answer this question at the Miss USA pageant: "A recent report shows that in 40% of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?"
Powell started out OK, saying that "you can relay this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to. . ." And then, well, cue the train wreck.

You can see the disaster unfold in this video. The highlight -- or is it lowlight? -- is when she says we need to "create education better." Host Giuliana Rancic (L) looks on as Miss Utah USA Marissa Powell answers a question from a judge during the interview portion of the 2013 Miss USA pageant on June 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada (© Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It was a truly cringe-worthy answer. But it didn't doom Powell's chances. She was named third runner-up and took home the Miss Photogenic USA award.

What does everyone expect? A speech on how motherhood abbreviates many women's work experiences, or a riff on the cultural and social mores that lead women into traditionally lower-paying service-sector and clerical jobs?

In many ways, it was an unfair question. If Powell had answered it right, she would have put half the audience to sleep. If she answered it spectacularly, painfully wrong, she would sashay into the viral-video spotlight.

I'm with money manager Josh Brown, who had this to say on Twitter: "Why do we do this to these girls? Why can't a beauty queen just be hot?"

More on moneyNOW

Jun 17, 2013 4:33PM
It's so easy to criticize these young women. In my younger days, I, too, competed in pageants.
And in sports, and in academics, etc. And none of these high-minded 'geniuses' poking fun at
Miss Utah have ever walked in her heels. It is commendable that these girls maintain their
composure as well as they do under the glare of the hot spotlights and pressures of live TV.
Her answers were not more cringe worthy than those of, well, how about Sarah Palin for a 
good example. A woman who at times came across as dim witted and deplorably uneducated and
under qualified to lead our nation, no matter what political affiliation and yet there she was making a good run for it... the highest office in the land... a job that thus far has only been held by a man!
My point is, that our society does put women in a precarious position... asking us to be super women...these days, we are supposed to want and have it all.. beauty, brains, career, kids. For
God sake...give those girls a break! They are not competing for Most Intelligent Female in the United States. Its a beauty contest. And Miss USA doesnt even had a talent contest. So poke fun of her stammering stupid answer but to say that is evidence of her being an idiot is really unfair.
Im sure if given an opportunity, and out of the spotlight, she could likely provide us a much more coherent answer. And probably a better one than  half the people poking fun at her. 
Beauty is over valued in our society... maybe that is the question they all should be asked.
Would they feel as confident in life, if they had been born less fortunate? Or has a disfiguring accident? Why do pretty people have such an advantage? And how will they cope when they get older and their own light fades? Looks dont last forever. 
I agree with the man that said, why cant we just let them be hot? As a little girl, I didnt dream of 
wanting to be a scientist, or accountant, or teacher... all noble things indeed... I just wanted to 
be like Barbie and a beauty queen like they lovely young ladies.  Sad but true. Maybe our culture is changing for the better, if ever so slowly. But the sad fact of the matter is men like to look at pretty women and women want to be pretty. So stop all the ridiculous banter. These girls deserve our admiration for getting out there and displaying their gorgeous faces and bodies despite all the criticism and flack they endure for doing so... born out of jealousy by many and 
contempt by others. But if you are lucky enough to have the looks, then why not at least try to 
cash in on it? And if the Donald is reading this... why not a Mr USA? Id love to see a herd of young hot men parading around in their swim trunks... what about that for equal opportunity!!!
Jun 17, 2013 6:23PM

Not just a "beauty queen" or she should not be.  She should be smart, poised, have some common sense, good personality and then the physical attributes.  Unfortuately, our current society just looks at the beauty...    

Jun 17, 2013 3:53PM
Jun 19, 2013 9:22AM
I don't see what's wrong with asking them hard questions. Do we have to go easy on pageant contestants just to keep up with the stereotype they are stupid?
Jun 17, 2013 11:21PM

Let's see, how long are they going to beat this question or obvious dilemma to death...

Maybe the news people/pageant host or others should do something about,

Instead of boring us all to death, with useless prattle...

Jun 18, 2013 3:41PM

Miss Powell tried.  She TRIED and was not given credit for that.


She was too innocent to properly catch this hot potatoe, to speak truth to power, and got dissed for it... The truth is that women with children are NOT all equal, are NOT handed equal options in life.  Some could not create favorable circumstances because they were desperate from poor planning, no family support, bad educational choices, and glass ceilings imposed by employers.


Perhaps Ms. Powell's shortcoming is all too typical of the lack of thought put into this issue.   There are so many venomous single-mother victim blamers out there, that such considerations are shouted down before having a chance to be discussed.

Jun 17, 2013 10:55PM

She did stammer and stumble. So what. No one is perfect and she folded under pressure. Learning moment.


Jun 17, 2013 5:22PM
Yeah, as in Miss Kansas with an incredible figure with great legs!  Her high heels add to her beauty! 
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