Springfield native crowned Miss USA to compete for Miss Universe title

Elle Smith, who graduated in 2016 from Shawnee High School in Clark County, Ohio, was crowned Miss USA Nov. 29, 2021. She competed as Miss Kentucky.

Credit: WHAS-TV

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Elle Smith, who graduated in 2016 from Shawnee High School in Clark County, Ohio, was crowned Miss USA Nov. 29, 2021. She competed as Miss Kentucky.

Credit: WHAS-TV

Credit: WHAS-TV

‘Elle inspires everyone who knows her’

Springfield native Ellen Smith competed in her first-ever pageant in May, and was crowned Miss Kentucky. On Monday night, she was named Miss USA.

Now, the 2016 Shawnee High School graduate is headed to Israel to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. The competition is scheduled for Dec. 12, and it will air on Fox television.

Smith, who goes by Elle, represented the State of Kentucky, her adopted home, in the 70th Miss USA pageant.

“Elle inspires everyone who knows her — even after she graduated, she still inspires us,” said Sherry Akers, Smith’s former guidance counselor at Shawnee. “Elle is an authentic example of empowerment, and we hope to embrace that virtue going forward.”

She and others in the Clark-Shawnee school district are “thrilled” for Smith and her family, Akers said.

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Credit: Elle Smith/Miss USA

Credit: Elle Smith/Miss USA

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Smith was inspired to compete in her first-ever pageant this year after seeing another former Shawnee student, Brittany Reid, win the Miss Ohio Teen USA pageant, said Smith’s mother, Lydia.

While at Shawnee, Smith participated in choir, orchestra and drama. She also was a volleyball player and an honor student, her mother said.

“The amount of support she has received is just overwhelming,” Lydia Smith said.

The coming days for Elle are packed with activities, her mother said: interviews , dress fittings in Houston and then the trip to Israel for the Miss Universe pageant. After that pageant, Smith will move to Los Angeles to take on her role of Miss USA and become the face of the pageant.

“It will definitely be a whirlwind for the next few weeks,” Lydia Smith said.

In addition to the luxury condo in Los Angeles, Smith will be awarded a six-figure salary, along with access to a Porsche and wardrobe, and beauty treatment services, according to Miss USA’s website.

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Smith earned a journalism degree at the University of Kentucky and is a multimedia journalist at TV station WHAS 11 in Louisville.

Smith’s TV station followed the competition and posted live updates on Twitter.

“WOW!!! This is quite the accomplishment!! Our Elle Smith is your new MISS USA!” the station tweeted after Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch from Mississippi placed the tiara on Smith’s head.

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Another Miami Valley native — Lora Current — is set to compete as Miss Ohio during Miss America’s 100th pageant week, which begins on Dec. 12.

Current is from Rosewood in Champaign County, and is a student at The Ohio State University.

The Miss America main pageant competition is available to stream Dec. 16 on Peacock.

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