Miss Mississippi USA, Asya Branch, has been crowned Miss USA 2020. The 22-year-old was named the winner at a ceremony at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis Monday evening according to ETonline.
Branch hails from Booneville and is the first African American to represent the state in the annual competition. The achievement also marked the first time a Mississippi contestant has won the title.
“As someone who grew up in a home with guns, I learned at an early age how to load, how to fire and gun safety,” she said. “And, I think that education should be available to everyone. I believe that we should require people to pass training and safety courses before they’re allowed to purchase a gun and before receiving a permit.”
“I think it’s important that we not ban guns because obviously, people will find a way to get what they want anyway,” she continued. “But I think it’s our Second Amendment right and we just need more safety surrounding that.”
As ETonline notes, Branch displayed pure shock as her name was called out and she was promptly crowned. Miss USA 2020 was initially scheduled for spring but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Miss Idaho USA, Kim Layne, was named first runner-up, while Miss Oklahoma USA, Mariah Jane Davis, became the second runner-up.
According to The Daily Beast in an earlier segment of the competition, she also weighed in on the political polarization of the country, attributing it to a lack of trust in the “systems that seem to keep our country running, from the media to business, to our government.” (She’s also voiced some troubling views on those in the gay community, albeit back in 2012.)
The rest of the Miss USA broadcast was full of the obligatory social distancing jokes and opaque explanations of safety procedures we’ve come to expect from a live television event produced in 2020. Hosts Allie LaForce and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila explained that contestants were tested and quarantined, and the smaller-than-usual live audience was temperature-checked and asked to wear masks, Daily Beast notes.