Brooke Fletcher, Miss Georgia USA 2015, is really thankful she wasn’t Miss Georgia USA 2014. Because timing is everything.
“With everything that has happened, I grew up more this past year than ever,” Fletcher says.
The 23-year-old from Peach Tree City, Ga., a former Miss Georgia Teen USA, graduated last year from Auburn University in business marketing. She quickly landed an associate director gig at ESPN thanks to her experience at AU’s Eagle Eye TV (and with zero assistance from the former professional baseball player she calls “Dad”, thank you very much).
“I’ve just kind of grown within myself,” she says. “Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t win last year because where I was as a person was just completely different.”
Now where she is as a person—an extremely busy person—is Baton Rouge, site of this year’s Miss USA pageant. It’s exciting. Cajun food. Photo shoots. Prelims. Appearances. More appearances. Rock climbing. Prepping. And, of course, controversy.
“With everything that’s going on recently, more people are talking about Miss USA than ever,” Fletcher says.
But would more people be able to watch it? Last month, NBC dropped the pageant due to backlash over Miss USA owner and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s controversial comments on illegal immigration, temporarily leaving the pageant without a broadcast home.
“At first we (the contestants) were all just kind of taken aback,” Fletcher says. “Nobody saw it coming. It was unfortunate because we’d all worked so hard. We were like ‘what’s going to happen?’ But we all had faith, we all came together. Everybody stayed positive.”
Three days later, cable network Reelz announced it had partnered with Miss USA and would air the pageant this Sunday night.
However, the fallout over Trump’s comments continued.
On Monday, five-time pageant co-host Jeannie Mai announced she had cut ties with Miss USA, backtracking on on her original commitment to stick with the organization.
“I feel terrible that the women competing this year have fallen victim to current events,” Mai wrote on Instagram.
Fletcher, however, doesn’t believe she’s fallen victim to anything. She says the prevailing attitude among the pageants has been to “ignore it and do your thing.” And to look on the bright side.
Timing, after all, is everything.
“This year is going to be a year everyone is going to remember because of all that has happened,” she says. “Everybody has been so supportive and encouraging. We’re all just really excited and ready for it to be here.”
So what are her chances of being crowned Miss USA in a year everyone will remember?
“I would hope good,” she laughs. “I mean, you never know. You give it your best, give it your all. And you just have to be yourself. If it’s God’s will, so be it. But if not, I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”
The Miss USA pageant airs Sunday at 7 p.m CST on Reelz. It was also be streamed on the Miss USA website.
More Brooke stuff:
Her brother Brian played baseball for Auburn.
Her sister and fellow Auburn alum Brittany Fletcher Beckham is married to Chicago White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham. And she was a contestant on The Amazing Race. And won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right on her 18th birthday.
During her Eagle Eye days, she interviewed Auburn’s last contribution to the Miss USA pageant: Katherine Webb.
And here’s her official Miss USA bio video.
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