Meet the 51 women competing in Donald Trump's Miss USA pageant

Donald Trump’s comments calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug runners have dimmed the spotlight for the 51 women competing in the Miss USA pageant this weekend.

Turmp is a co-owner of the pageant, and since he spoke, networks and celebrities have ended their affilition with the annual event.

Miss USA’s co-owner NBC ended its business relationship with Trump and dropped the pageant. Univision also said it wouldn’t air the pageant because of Trump’s “insulting” comments. A number of companies, including Macy’s, have cut ties with anything associated with Trump.

That means 51 women have lost a huge opportunity to be recognised. And it’s an opportunity they have worked really hard for.

Last year, the Miss USA pageant was viewed by more than 5.5 million people on NBC. It’s unclear what the reach will be like this year. Right now, a little-known cable network called ReelzChannel will be broadcasting the pageant live.

The Miss Universe Organisation has pointed out that it’s an independently-run company. Trump isn’t the one running the show. He doesn’t spend a lot of time with the titleholders either. But that hasn’t mattered to angry celebrity hosts and networks.

Those 51 women competing this weekend have spent months, maybe years, just to make it to the national stage for what’s widely referred to as the “Super Bowl of pageants.” The day NBC dropped the pageant was also the same day the women arrived in Baton Rouge for two weeks of appearances, volunteer work, rehearsals, and preliminaries.

Competing on a national level requires a great deal of work and commitment. The preparation process includes eating healthy, working out, learning how to walk and pose, and how to interview and speak well publicly. It also involves numerous appearances and countless hours of community service and volunteer work.

It’s incredibly expensive too. Yes, there are sponsorships, but many of the women and their families likely had to fundraise to pay for travel and gowns and all of the other costs associated with pageantry.

The contestants make these sacrifices because the Miss USA pageant is a change to be discovered. Celebrities like Eva Longoria, Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams all competed in pageants in the past and so have Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson and ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. For many of these 51 women, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Scroll down to meet these ladies.

ALABAMA: Madison Guthrie is a model/actress. She's appeared in ESPN's 'Who's in?' commercials, 'Grace Unplugged,' and Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock's 'Redneck Paradise' music video.

ALASKA: Kimberly Argon is a student at the University of Alaska Anchorage where she's double majoring in nursing and marketing.

ARIZONA: Maureen Montagne has been dancing for the last 12 years. She danced for Arizona State University's drill team.

ARKANSAS: Leah Blefko is a broadcast journalism and sports management double major at the University of Arkansas.

CALIFORNIA: Natasha Martinez is a TV host working at KDOC-TV in Southern California.

COLORADO: Talyah Polee is a former Division I track & field athlete at the University of Nevada Las Vegas where she studied psychology.

CONNECTICUT: Ashley Golebiewski is the first person in her family to attend college. She's attending Central Connecticut State University where she's majoring in finance and minoring in communications.

DELAWARE: Renee Bull owns her own business, a custom jewellery boutique called 'Intricate Designs,' and she's in school pursuing a degree in communications.

DC: Lizzy Olsen is the Majority Director of Operations for the Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works.

FLORIDA: Ashleigh Lollie is in her second year of law school.

GEORGIA: Brooke Fletcher is an associate director at ESPN.

HAWAII: Emma Wo is a PR executive at Bennet Group Public Relation where she focuses on tourism and real estate.

IDAHO: Claira Hollingsworth has been working on becoming a dental hygienist.

ILLINOIS: Renee Wronecki and her mother are both skin cancer survivors.

INDIANA: Gretchen Reece graduated from Butler University with a degree in communication disorders.

IOWA: Taylor Even has been working on a degree in respiratory therapy from Hawkeye Community College.

KANSAS: Alexis Railsback wants to pursue a career as a professional makeup artist in the entertainment and fashion industry.

KENTUCKY: Katie George is a NCAA Division I volleyball player.

LOUISIANA: Candice Bennatt is a model and former NFL cheerleader. She's currently in law school at Loyola University in New Orleans.

MAINE: Heather Elwell is a flautist and attended Florida State University where she majored in music and economics.

MARYLAND: Mame Adjei graduated from VCU with a degree in political science and Africana studies and minor in business.

MASSACHUSETTS: Polikseni Manxhari has a psychology degree from Northeastern University. She's a contact on the Samaritans Suicide Prevention Hotline.

MICHIGAN: Rashontae Wawrzyniak has a psychology degree from Siena Heights University where she ran indoor/outdoor track and cross-country. She works as a model/actress.

MINNESOTA: Jessica Scheu is a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She's majoring in business and minoring in journalism.

MISSISSIPPI: Courtney Byrd is a student at Ole Miss.

MISSOURI: Rebecca Dunn is an anchor for Newsy.com.

MONTANA: Tahnee Peppenger graduated from Montana State University in 2010 with a degree in sports medicine. She loves the rodeo.

NEBRASKA: Hoang-Kim Cung is a reporter and fill-in anchor for a local news station.

NEVADA: Brittany McGowan is a model/actress and has been featured in campaigns for Sketchers and LA Fitness.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Samantha Poirier graduated from the University of New Hampshire and she wants to open a spa with her sister one day.

NEW JERSEY: Vanessa Oriolo is a student at Temple University where she's working on degrees in business administration and marketing.

NEW MEXICO: Alexis Duprey teaches public speaking at New Mexico State University.

NEW YORK: Thatiana Diaz graduated magna cum laude from Pace University with a degree in communications. She's interned for Vogue, Sony, Latina Magazine and Seventeen magazine.

NORTH CAROLINA: Julia Dalton graduated from High Point University with a degree in exercise science and pre-pharmacy education.

NORTH DAKOTA: Molly Ketterling is studying business at Bismarck State College.

OHIO: Sarah Newkirk is a lithotripsy technician helping remove kidney stones in surgery.

OKLAHOMA: Olivia Jordan, a graduate from Boston University, is a model and she also appeared in the film 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2.'

OREGON: Bridget Wilmes sings opera and models.

PENNSYLVANIA: Elizabeth Cardillo works as a bridal stylist. She also models.

RHODE ISLAND: Anea Garcia is a sophomore at Roger Williams University on a full tuition grant through the International Leadership Award. She's double majoring in legal studies and philosophy.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Sarah Weishuhn has a degree in public health from University of South Carolina.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Lexy Schenk is earning her nursing degree from the University of South Dakota.

TENNESSEE: Kiara Young is currently an NFL cheerleader and boutique buyer. Her career goal is to become a pediatric gastroenterologist.

TEXAS: Ylianna Guerra finished her degree in communications from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.

UTAH: Nicol Powell

VERMONT: Jackie Croft is a model/bartender. She loves competing in Spartan Races.

VIRGINIA: Laura Puleo, a Duke alum, is currently studying at Washington and Lee University's law school.

WASHINGTON: Kenzi Novell graduated from Gonzaga with a degree in public relations.

WEST VIRGINIA: Andrea Mucino holds a degree in international relations from West Virginia University. She also interned for the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.

WISCONSIN: Haley Laundrie is a dean's list student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she's studying communications and legal studies.

WYOMING: Caroline Scott graduated from Creighton University and is now working as a social worker.

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