Alyssa Campanella is the new Miss USA — and she’s probably been dreaming of this day forever.
But Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organisation (and Donald Trump‘s right-hand pageant deputy), knows Campanella has no idea what she’s in for.
“It’s a really weird day,” Shugart told The Wire by phone (a few days before the pageant, when Campanella hadn’t yet been crowned but was crushing the odds).
“It’s definitely not my favourite,” Shugart continued. “The winner is in a state of shock, and we just try not to overwhelm her.”
Right — Campanella looked pretty bowled over on stage. But that’s not what Shugart means.
It’s the immediate aftermath of the crowning that makes the winner’s head spin.
“When the camera goes off, it’s this ‘now what?’ moment,” said Shugart. “The girls pack their bags before the pageant, so someone goes and gets the winner’s. She never goes back to her room. She’s dropped in this suite, a whole new place.
“Her voicemail is totally full. We take away her cell phone — she’s not using that number anymore. She does a day of media [in Vegas], then it’s off to New York.
“All of a sudden everyone’s staring at her. Tons of people are approaching her, trying to get her to sign onto events, commercials, deals.
“She just has to nod and hand the business cards to us — she can’t book anything she does herself.
And over the next several months, things get weirder.
“Around the middle of the year, she’s often tired and frustrated,” said Shugart.
“At any given time, she’s answering to about 20 different people. With Rima [Fakih, 2010’s Miss USA], we had the sneaking out thing. I told her recently, ‘Monday will be the first day in the year I haven’t emailed you your schedule for the day.’ It’s bizarre.”
“Every single waking hour of Miss USA’s life, someone knows where she is. Because everything they do affects all of us as an organisation.
But here’s the good news for Campanella — the year goes fast.
And just as she settles in, it will be time to give up the crown.
“At the end of the year, it’s another huge adjustment,” Shugart said. “Suddenly, Rima’s not flying first class everywhere, she doesn’t have security. It’s a reality check, but we try to help, especially with career opportunities. We don’t leave. We’re still there.”
(As you read this, Fakih is clearing out her Trump Place Manhattan apartment in preparation to turn it over to Campanella.)
And by the way, today isn’t the most enjoyable day at the office for Shugart, either.
“First of all, we’re all exhausted from the night before,” she said. “And we’re always very nervous about the brand. We’re saying goodbye to someone we’ve worked with for a year — and we’re scared to death that this twentysomething girl we know nothing about is now our brand.
“We start from scratch with our brand every year — and we have no say in what it is.”
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