By Alana Abramson
Miss Utah Marissa Powell finished third in the Miss USA Pageant, and became an Internet sensation for her flubbed response to a question about the gender wage gap. But she is getting just as much, if not more attention as the actual winner of the pageant, Miss Connecticut Erin Brady.
Powell’s response to a question about female breadwinners and income inequality went viral after she gave a rambling explanation that the United States should “make education better.” It was Miss Utah who was trending on Twitter and search engines yesterday, not “Miss Connecticut.”
While the winner of the Miss USA usually goes on a media tour and the other contestants recede into the background, Powell and Brady both made the talk show rounds today. Both appeared on “Inside Edition” and “the Today Show” (Where Powell was given another chance to provide a response to the question.) Powell will fly to L.A. later today for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” according to her Twitter account. A spokesperson for Miss Universe, which owns the Miss USA pageant, told ABC News Brady was unable to travel to Los Angeles.
All three shows reached out to Powell directly, said the spokesperson.
Powell also called in to The Johnjay and Rich radio show, which is heard across the country. Johnjay also tweeted at her, telling her ‘ I had u as the winner btw!’
In addition to national appearances, Powell has received an outpouring of support on the same social media sites where her comments first went viral. One user on Twitter praised her as a role model; another said she was “the most beautiful of all 51″ contestants; someone else told her, “u are my miss usa!”
And the Independent Women’s Forum, a Washington-based think tank focused on women’s rights and economic liberty, over Twitter urged her to share their video promoting information about gender disparities.
In comparison with Powell, Brady’s Twitter handle–she has assumed the verified Miss USA account–only had one tweet this morning, linking to an Instagram picture of her on the set of the Today show.
Nancy Schuster, the publicist for Miss New York, acknowledged in an interview that this “does take away the limelight from the winner,” but it will not impede Miss USA’s reign in the long term.
“Miss Utah is getting this now, but Miss USA has an entire year,” said Schuster. “Whatever happens with [Miss] Utah’s limelight, good for her.”
The Miss Universe spokesperson told ABC News she is not worried about Powell overtaking the spotlight, explaining that Brady is only just beginning her media tour and is scheduled for multiple appearances.
“Over the years the girls have definitely interviewed together for all different reasons. A ton of people have stopped Erin Brady on the street and know who she is,” she said. “She [Powell] is not overshadowing Miss USA at all.”
Schuster also praised Powell for turning a national taunt into positive publicity.
“She might not have won, but because of being noticed on camera, her life changed. And its about changing these moments for these girls and however they get it, so she should take it and run with it.”