Somerset Community College can already claim one Miss USA. Might another be on the way?
Allie Leggett of McCreary County is in the running for the coveted Miss USA title later this month in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pageant, which will be held June 15, features state winners from all around the nation, and Leggett is representing the Bluegrass as Miss Kentucky.
Leggett — who enrolled in SCC this past semester to take online courses while focusing on her pageant preparation after having previously attended Western Kentucky University — has set her academic focus on the field of psychology.
Leggett, of Whitley City, won the title of Miss Kentucky USA 2013 in January, a veteran of the circuit even at age 19 after having competed twice before for Miss Kentucky Teen USA and other pageants.
Held annually since 1952, the winner of Miss USA goes on the represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant, now owned and operated by famed businessman and reality TV personality Donald Trump.
“She’s been in pageants since she was 12 years old,” said her mother, Pam Leggett. “Me and her sisters always made sure she did what she wanted to do (in entering the competitions). It always came through sponsors; we never had the money to do it ourselves.”
If Allie Leggett wins Miss USA, she’ll move to New York for a year to live in the famed Trump Towers with the reigning Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA, and will become a jet-setter, staying busy traveling all over the world, doing photo shoots, and working with various good causes.
Her state title has also presented the opportunity to work more with children, something Leggett loves. She said she’s been able to go into schools and talk to kids — even at Tuesday’s party, she was happy to sign autographs for her littlest fans — and specifically working with the organization Best Buddies, which helps young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville. Leggett has also followed in the footsteps of many beauties before her by working with the USO (United Service Organizations) to support the country’s troops.
“It’s a lot of fun giving back,” she said. “(Miss USA is) not just about ourselves.”
One of the most notable Miss USA winners over the years has been Tara Conner, a Russell County native who also counted herself as an SCC alum.
Conner has made a splash in the entertainment world since taking the Miss USA title in 2006., appearing on television shows like “Deal or No Deal,” “Project Runway,” “Pageant Place,” “Gone Country,” and “The Girls of Hedsor Hall,” the latter of which she hosted for MTV.
Conner also became known for making tabloid headlines after allegations of wild partying threatened her Miss USA status and led to her entering a rehabilitation center for substance abuse. Conner ended up coming out of the hard times with a successful career and has since become an advocate for addiction recovery.
Leggett hasn’t met Conner but is aware of her and talked to some of those who knew the earlier queen on her march to the title.
“I admire her for being so strong in (the middle of) her controversy,” said Leggett.
Leggett isn’t the only pageant star from the Lake Cumberland area to be shooting for the stars. Southwestern High School graduate Chelsea Killman, currently a student at the University of Kentucky, won the Miss Teen Kentucky United States pageant in February, and will be competing in Washington D.C. in July for the crown belonging to Miss Teen United States.
Leggett has already departed for Vegas, where she will be staying with her fellow state winners at the Planet Hollywood resort.
“We’ll be there for a couple of weeks, doing rehearsals, appearances, fittings, all that fun stuff,” she said. “I’ve never been to Vegas. This will be my second time flying.”
Leggett has been maintaining a six-day-a-week gym regimen to stay fit, alternating focus on weight training and cardio every other day, but dieting hasn’t been too much of a challenge. “If I’ve wanted something, I’ve eaten it,” she said. “I just work out a lot.”
Leggett also has to be good on her feet figuratively as well as literally, able to answer questions with poise and precision. This involves interview training with a pageant-knowledgeable coach.
“It’s a lot of mental preparation, more than it is physical,” she said. “You need to get in that mindset that you’re going to go out there and have a positive attitude and do the best you possibly can.
“It’s really just about making your personality come out,” she continued. “Of course they want you to be intelligent, but it’s not really about how smart you are but how you answer the question, how confident you are with your answer. It’s about being okay talking in front of the whole world, because really, we are.”