While New York City is still on high alert after the attempted Times Square bombing earlier this month, the Miss USA pageant is proving this country still has love for Arab-Americans after crowning a 24-year-old Lebanese-American Rima Fakih winner of this weekend’s contest. Pop the hood for details about the pageant, including how Rima says she knew she was a winner.
Lebanese immigrant Rima Fakih says it was a certain look from Donald Trump that tipped her off that she had won the 2010 Miss USA title.
The 24-year-old Miss Michigan beat out 50 other women to take the title Sunday night, despite nearly stumbling in her evening gown.
She told reporters later that she believed she had won after glancing at pageant owner Trump as she awaited the results with the first runner-up, Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard.
“That’s the same look that he gives them when he says, ‘You’re hired,’” on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” she said.
“She’s a great girl,” said Trump, who owns the pageant with NBC in a joint venture.
Fakih took top honors at the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini, wearing a strapless white gown that resembled a wedding dress and saying health insurance should cover birth control pills.
Fakih, an Arab-American from Dearborn, Mich., told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003.
Pageant officials said historical pageant records were not detailed enough to show whether Fakih was the first Arab American, Muslim or immigrant to win the Miss USA title.
Fakih told reporters she sold her car after graduating college in Michigan to help pay for her run in the Miss Michigan USA pageant.
In a moment that was replayed during the broadcast, Fakih nearly fell while finishing her walk in her gown because of the length of its train. But she made it without a spill and went on to win.
Fakih replaces Miss USA 2009 Kristen Dalton and won a spot representing the United States this summer in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant. She also gets a one-year lease in a New York apartment with living expenses, an undisclosed salary, and various health, professional and beauty services.
During the interview portion, Fakih was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance, and she said she believed it should because it’s costly.
“I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it’s a controlled substance,” Fakih said.
We watched part of the Miss USA pageant this weekend and we felt that Fakih was the most down to earth finalist on stage. The fact that she sold her car to be able to compete also puts her in a very deserving light!
Do you think the politics of her being Arab-American played into the decision to crown her at all? Do you think that having an Arab-American Miss USA will improve relations between Arabs and Westerners or Arab-Americans and other Americans at all? Considering that the pageant called for Rima to wear a bikini, and Arab culture has been critical of how Western culture allows women to wear revealing clothing, could this win actually have the reverse effect?