My Shining Moment at Miss USA 2001

Thanks to the Fullmanator for finding this and bringing up something I’ve been so desperately trying to forget, and to whomever took the time to use an old fashioned camcorder to record their TV and convert it to a digital format. This is a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life, all when I knew I wasn’t going to win the title of Miss USA 2001. I haven’t ever watched it until it was pointed out to me that it’s on YouTube. Now, you too can witness how I flubbed the world’s stupidest pageant question. Remember, you only get 30 seconds to answer! (I didn’t know it was going to be an essay question.)

Yeah, I wish I had handled it differently or had the question “How is your mom an influence in your life?”, but I didn’t. So, I attempted to redeem myself with honesty. I don’t watch sports, at all, really. I’m an artist. Ask me about that. I wonder how many of those girls know anything about 3 letter acronyms.

I knew it was over when I had this strange “out of body” experience, when I could hear myself talking and all of a sudden I forgot what the question was, and realized I had no idea what the question was about in the first place. I just kept asking myself, did he ask me about sports or the media? I even muttered “Here it goes” acknowledging I just messed up. I got really worried when Martha Stewart had this crazy scrunched-up look on her face. Yeah, I knew it was over. I would have been shocked had my name been called to go to the next round. I finished 4th runner up.

Strangely enough, the year after I competed the format was changed and they now choose a winner from the top 5 and the questions are more open ended and conversational. I’m going to say what I always say, even though it sounds cliché. Everything happens for a reason and I would not be where I am now had I gotten a question I could have answered. I’m glad I didn’t win. I got to be me, Larissa Meek the artist, not another Miss USA.

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  • Nessa

    I would have said the same exact thing. Eff sports.



  • Jeff

    Wow. I just saw this for the first time and I CANNOT believe that boozed out Baldwin asked such a stupid question. I agree with John in that, IF you had a week to think about the answer, maybe you’d have done a better job. But that question was stupid, highlighted by the fact it was followed with a second sports question. Baldwin was not trying to get you to speak to “controversy,” he was stroking his own arrogant love of sports. Outside of a sporting event or sporting television program, who cares?! This was Miss USA, not the Sugar Bowl. Pageant organizers should never have allowed that question to be asked.

    My 2 cents. Halle Berry lost Miss USA! You press on! I think you rock!

  • Nick


    I think you would have been a great Miss USA. Hey, no one is perfect and no one knows everything, I did not think you did anything wrong, –you just got the wrong question for you that’s all. Best of luck to you.

  • Pingback: Larissa Meek » Pageant tricks and tips, how to win. (Larissa Meek, Artist and Web Designer, Larissa is a former model and star of Average Joe.)

  • larissa

    Well, I’m not going to disagree that I could have answered a million different ways… But all I had was 30 seconds to even think about it, and since I don’t care for sports… (no It’s not a “cop out”)…  I just had to think a bit longer so I could come up with a good answer. Even if I had to fake it to win the hearts of the Judges.

    I drove myself crazy thinking about how I SHOULD have answered, and I realized It not so much WHAT I say but HOW I say it.

    30 Seconds just wasn’t enough time for my brain to process all that.And you know what? I’m glad I didn’t fake it.

  • JD

    I would suppose the best answer would be that sports is
    too often concerned about winning and losing and not striving for each individuals best performance.
    That answer could have been tied into your competing
    for this title…where win or lose…you will have learned
    what you needed perhaps….and grown from the experience.

    Of which …I will add you have done.

    My opinion is that we as a society often run from interpersonal expressions of self…so building 500
    million dollar sports stadiums .. celebrates one more
    “giant step” back from discovering who we are individually
    and collectively as men and women.
    As we are inhabiting a planet on the far edge of time space reality we know little about….with 6 billion people, many of
    which are suffering beyond what we could even imagine..
    why not just give ourselves another distraction?
    Sports….please….Im here to change the planet.
    next question.

  • john

    It’s really not that hard of a question if you had thought about it more. They key phrase is “the media’s need for controversy.” As soon you heard that you should have thought, ok so if the media needs to cover controversy then what about non-controversial stories? Then apply the answer to sports. Something like, “Lots of charity work and good deeds done by athletes does not get media coverage at all because it’s not controversial.”

    Saying that you’re not a sports fan is just an excuse for choking under the pressure.

  • Ron

    In some cases first is not always the winner. We may things happen for a reason but it always seems to work out. We may experience layoffs, loss relationships and personal hardships but seem to form the foundation of our lives. You have been able to full-fill many of your ambitions at a young age. Look how exciting your life currently is and the new friends (like Fullmanator and those at Agencynet) that you have made.

    Enough of the serious stuff. Maybe Monday the Fullmanator can toss a paper ball for us.


  • Tammy

    Personally, I think you took the high road, and were true to yourself. I too am not an avid fan of sports and would’ve had a difficult time answering those questions. I thought you looked beautiful, and although you didn’t win the title, you came out winning anyway.

  • Don

    I disagree with you on one point…Had you become Miss USA, you very likely would have remained true to yourself. Having observed your growth these past years, I imagine you would have used your position to promote the “fine arts”, encouraging school systems and municipalities to properly fund the arts for the benefit of so many gifted children who will never play a sport or win an athletic scholarship. Some how, I doubt that you would have been diminished as the beautiful, gifted role model you’ve become.
    First place finishes not withstanding, I hope you know that we love and admire the terrific lady that you’ve become, anyway!!!
    Good luck with the new job!