Miss USA 1990

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Miss USA 1990
Date March 2, 1990
Presenters Dick Clark, Leeza Gibbons and Laura Harring
Venue Century II Convention Center, Wichita, Kansas
Broadcaster CBS, KWCH
Winner Carole Gist
Michigan Michigan
Congeniality Janet Tveita
Photogenic Stephanie Teneyck

Miss USA 1990, the 39th Miss USA pageant, was televised live from the Century II Convention Center in Wichita, Kansas on March 2, 1990.

At the conclusion of the final competition, Carole Gist of Michigan was crowned by outgoing titleholder Gretchen Polhemus of Texas. Carole became the first African American winner ever and the first woman from Michigan to be crowned as Miss USA.

For the first time, the judges' individual scores were visible to the viewing audience, adding transparency to the pageant.

Also in 1990, a major format change that transformed the Miss USA competition for the next decade was introduced, in which the delegates would face an extra round of elimination on finals night: the Top 6 judges' questions.

Instead of reducing the top 12 to the usual Final 5, the judges would pick a momentary top 6. Those 6 finalists would answer questions from the judges and the field was reduced to a final 3 who would face the traditional final question, adding unpredictability to the competition after 5 Texan Miss USA winners from GuyRex Associates, who would lose their Miss Texas USA franchise the next year.

The pageant was hosted by Dick Clark for the second of five times, with color commentary by Leeza Gibbons and Laura Harring, Miss USA 1985.

This was the first time the pageant was held in Wichita, where it would be staged for the next three years.



Map showing placements by state
Final results Contestant
Miss USA 1990
1st runner-up
2nd runner-up
Top 6
Top 12

Special awards[edit]

Historical significance[edit]

  • Carole Gist was Michigan's first placement since 1983 and went on to win the title.
  • New Jersey placed second runner-up for the second consecutive year, a record for the state.
  • This was Alaska's fourth placement ever, and their first since 1978.
  • Kentucky placed for the first time since 1982.
  • Georgia placed for the fifth consecutive year, with top six placements or higher every year.
  • This was District of Columbia's first placement since 1984. District of Columbia would not place again until 2001.
  • Illinois placed for the seventh consecutive year.
  • Texas had a semifinalist for the sixteenth and last year in succession. The state would not place in 1991.
  • Mississippi recorded their fourth placement in five years, a record for the state. They did not place again until 2005.
  • Ohio placed for the first time since Halle Berry was first runner-up in 1986. The state did not place again until 1999.

Gina Tolleson went on to represent USA at Miss World which she won. Carole Gist represented USA at Miss Universe 1990 where she finished runner-up to Norway's Mona Grudt. If Carole had won Miss Universe, Miss South Carolina, Gina Tolleson would have become Miss USA and Miss New Jersey, Karin Hartz, would have gone on to represent the USA at the Miss World Pageant. It has been the closest that USA has been of winning both major Big 4 pageants.


Preliminary competition[edit]

The following are the contestants' scores in the preliminary competition.

Final competition[edit]


The Miss USA 1990 delegates were:


1990 was the year with the smallest number of crossover contestants since 1986.

  • No former Miss America delegates competed for the second year in a row.
  • Gina Tolleson later won Miss World 1990.


External links[edit]