Senior Madison Moore wins Miss Kansas Teen USA

Nicole Becker, business manager

Standing on the stage among the other top five contestants, senior Madison Moore reminded herself to stay in the moment. She held the hands of the other contestants as the judges called the name of each runner-up winner until only she and another girl remained with names uncalled. “It’s fine if they say your name because she’s really awesome, and it’s going to be OK,” Madison thought to herself, and at last, the judges announced the final runner-up. Madison’s name had still not been called. Her jaw immediately dropped, and tears flowed instantly as she met her sister, sophomore Malerie Moore, for a celebratory embrace.

“I was just in complete shock, and then it was just tears and crying instantly, so much crying because it finally happened,” Madison said. “I kept touching my head, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, [the crown] is really there,’ but I was feeling so blessed and so humbled. It was the coolest thing that ever happened to me, flat out.”

After four years of competing for the title of Miss Kansas Teen USA of the Miss Universe organization, Madison finally earned the crown on Nov. 29 in Mulvane, Kansas. She competed alongside her sister Malerie who entered pageantry for the first time. Both sisters placed in the top five as Malerie won fourth runner-up and Madison won overall.

The pageant commenced with opening number, in which the judges caught their first glimpse of the contestants on stage performing a choreographed dance with all the other contestants. After that, the girls competed in swimsuit where teens sport a one-piece suit and are judged on physical fitness, stage presence and overall impression. Malerie won the swimsuit portion of the competition.

“Swimsuit is my favorite because it’s kind of sassy, and I’m pretty sassy sometimes,” Malerie said. “So that was fun, but also I’m very clumsy, so not having to walk in a big dress was a lot more comfortable for me.”

Following swimsuit, the contestants competed in evening gown with the goal of walking with grace and poise to end the first night of the presentation. The next morning, contestants underwent four-minute, one-on-one interviews with each judge so the judges could get to know the personality of each contestant. The judges ask questions such as what the contestant would do if she won the crown or what the contestant enjoys to do in her free time.

Throughout her previous three years of competing, Madison had won every section of the pageant except for interview, but this year, she ended up winning that portion of the competition.

“I really enjoy interview,” Madison said. “I like getting to talk to the judges, and they really are trying to get to know you as a person. I had great conversations with the judges this year and made a lot of cool connections with them, so I had a good time.”

Madison had made it to the top five and semifinals in previous years, but this year, Madison said she entered the competition with a different mindset. In previous years, she had stressed about events that were to take place the next day or in the next couple of hours, but this year, after a reminder from her mother, Angela Moore, Madison focused on the things that she was experiencing in each moment instead of worrying about what was to come.

“I tried to remind [Madison and Malerie] that it’s just an experience, and winning or losing isn’t really what it’s about,” Angela said. “This year, just for them to have the experience together, win, lose or draw, it was going to be a really special time for them.”

Since Madison and Malerie don’t share many common interests, they haven’t had the opportunity to participate in the same activities. They said experiencing the pageant together brought them closer because they were there to support each other as they underwent the same stress. Although they were competing against each other, ultimately, they said they were there to cheer each other on.

“As soon as they called Malerie’s name for top five, I forgot judges were even watching me, and I completely flipped out on stage,” Madison said. “I was so excited for her, and I came off stage and I was like, ‘Malerie, if it’s you that wins, I want you to know I’ll be so proud of you. Yeah, it’s going to be hard if I lose, but just know that more of my feelings are going to be pride for you than anything else.’”

As both siblings entered the pageant, they were aware that it was possible for one to win over the other, and Angela made sure to discuss the possibilities prior to the competition. If Malerie had won over Madison, Madison still had another eligible year left to compete once more for the crown. However, upon Madison’s crowning, she said that’s no longer necessary. Since the previous Miss Kansas Teen USA crowns the new winner, the Moores said they hope next year, Madison will be crowning Malerie.

“Folks would look at us like, ‘Are you nuts? What are you thinking having both kids compete against each other?’” Angela said. “In the back of your mind, you start to doubt whether it’s the right choice. So we talked about it quite a bit as a family, about the importance of having the experience and the girls being there and supporting each other.”

Angela said that the entire family is really excited to see what Madison does with the year she has as Miss Kansas Teen. Not only does Madison reap the benefits of the pageant’s extensive prize package, but she has the opportunity of new experiences that are “once in a lifetime opportunities.” Already, Madison’s title allowed her to travel to watch the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas on Dec. 20 in the front row.

Throughout the year, Madison will be doing numerous appearances for various causes. Specifically, she’ll work a lot with Warrior for Ross, which aims to support children battling cancer and their families.

“I think that this experience will carry forward with Madison in her career and in her future, and I think that she’s going to have, has already have, really, experiences that are unique and are life-changing,” Angela said. “I think the exposure that she gets through this experience is something that she would never get any other way, so I’m really excited for her. I’m excited to share it with her and see what she does with it.”

Along with various appearances, Madison said she hopes to start a Dream Big project where she’ll write and publish a children’s book with a message and travel to different elementary, middle and high schools across Kansas to share it. Madison has always wanted to be a writer, and she said her title has given her a platform to achieve one of the career goals she’d set for herself. Although her book will primarily be a children’s book, Madison said that she hopes to tailor the message for students of different age groups.

“I thought I was going to be a million different things before I got to where I am now, and I want to tell [high school students] that’s OK  ­­­— you don’t have to have your entire life planned out from freshman year on or when you’re 6 years old,”   Madison said. “Then for younger kids, it’ll be about how there’s no limitations. There’s nothing holding you back, and as long as you work hard you can do anything. If you want to be the president, if you want to be an astronaut, if you want to be a princess, then you can be that.”

Regardless of whether she won, Madison said pageants have taught her valuable lessons she can carry with her throughout her life. She said she’s learned how to be “confidently beautiful” and to stay true to who she is. Likewise, she’s acquired valuable skills such as interviewing, which she can utilize when starting her career. Now that she has the title, Madison said she’s eager to learn even more from the people she meets and the connections she makes.

“I’m really excited to see how I can impact the state of Kansas and the people living in it through having this title and where that title takes me later in life,” Madison said. “It’s a great platform for me to get the word out about important things, and it’s a great platform for me to just be doing well in my career some day or just with people in general. I’m really interested to see what kind of person I am this time next year.”