After months of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Asya branch in Mississippi has won the Miss USA 2020 election.
The 22-year-old was crowned on Monday in a contest broadcast live from Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. She succeeds Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst.
Branch received the coveted title ahead of second runner-up Miss Oklahoma USA Mariah Jane Davis and first runner-up Miss Idaho USA Kim Layne.
Prior to this victory, Branch made history when she became the first African American to be named Miss Miss Miss Mississippi USA in 2018 and is from Booneville. This is also the first time Mississippi has won the title.
“I told my mother that if I won Miss USA, I would have made history twice,” Branch said in an interview with the Mississippi’s Daily Journal. “It’s been 10 years since Miss Miss Mississippi made it into the top 15 in the Miss USA. I hope I can revise this cycle and bring the crown back home to Mississippi”.
The senior at the University of Mississippi previously attended a roundtable discussion with President Donald Trump and performed the national anthem at a Trump rally in Southaven, Mississippi, in October 2018.
In a now-deleted Instagram post (via The Daily Beast) from the event, she wrote: “Incredible honor to sing the National Anthem at President Trump’s Trump Rally in Southaven tonight”.
#MissUSA 2020 is….Mississippi!! pic.twitter.com/zyH7yoTSgZ
– Miss USA (@MissUSA) November 10, 2020
In her final statement on Monday evening, Branch spoke about the weapons law.
“As someone who grew up in a house with firearms, I learned early on how to load, how to shoot and how to shoot safely,” Branch said. “And I think education should be accessible to everyone. I think that we should require people to take training and safety courses before they are allowed to buy a gun and before they get a permit.
She added: “I think it is important that we don’t ban guns, because obviously people will find a way to get what they want anyway. But I think it is our right under the Second Amendment, and we simply need more security in this context”.
Branch’s victory means that she will represent the US in the Miss Universe 2020 election.
Branch was also asked what can be done to “bring America back together”.
The beauty pageant nominee said the country must “lead by example” if it wants to “continue to be the greatest nation.
“I think this is a question of trust,” she said, “We have lost confidence in the systems that seem to keep our country running – from the media to the economy to our government. It’s a matter of restoring that trust and coming together and working together to heal the systems and to strengthen trust in the systems”.