Who Is Elle Smith? Meet Miss USA Pageant Winner 2021 and Miss Kentucky

Elle Smith was crowned the winner of the 2021 Miss USA pageant on November 29. Smith, who entered the competition as Miss Kentucky, battled it out with 50 other contestants to claim the top title.

Runner-up Miss North Dakota Caitlyn Vogel was followed by Miss Florida Ashley Carino and Miss Illinois Sydni Bennett in this year's contest, which was held at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Who Is Elle Smith?

Smith is a reporter for the WHAS11 television station in Louisville, Kentucky and has a major in broadcast journalism, according to her biography on the station's website.

Led by her interest in writing and politics, Smith graduated from the University of Kentucky's (UK) College of Communication and Information in 2020.

During her time there, she got involved in the UK Student News Network, the Kentucky Kernel, WRFL and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

Serving as vice president of the NABJ during her senior year at university, Smith later landed her job at WHAS11 through an NABJ conference.

In an interview with the UK earlier this month, Smith explained: "I felt so much support from staff, faculty, peers. And there are also so many different opportunities for journalism students.

"I think those are what led me to get this job in Louisville right out of school," she said at the time.

Working as a reporter—finding, pitching, shooting and editing news stories daily—allowed her to be able to afford a spot in her first pageant with the Miss Kentucky competition, which she won in May this year.

Recalling the moment of her Miss Kentucky win, Smith told the UK: "I never walked in wanting to win.

"I wanted to do the best that I could but also know that I had put in the work to be there, put in all the work I needed to do to be on that stage, and I could say that. That's why I would've been happy no matter what."

Smith has represented her state as Miss Kentucky while working full-time as a reporter, making appearances at ball games and other events while also appearing on camera to cover news stories.

In December, Smith will go on to represent the U.S. in the Miss Universe contest, which will be held in Israel for the first time.

The upcoming competition has faced calls for contestants to boycott the pageant as part of the larger push to boycott Israeli goods and events over the past few years.

Previous Miss USA Winners

  • 2020: Asya Branch
  • 2019: Cheslie Kryst
  • 2018: Sarah Rose Summers
  • 2017: Kara McCullough
  • 2016: Deshauna Barber
  • 2015: Olivia Jordan
  • 2014: Nia Sanchez
  • 2013: Erin Brady
  • 2012: Olivia Culpo (winner of the 2012 Miss Universe pageant)
  • 2012: Nana Meriwether (who claimed the 2012 Miss USA title after Culpo took the 2012 Miss Universe title)
  • 2011: Alyssa Campanella
  • 2010: Rima Fakih
  • 2009: Kristen Dalton

See the Miss USA website for a list of other previous winners.