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Miss Utah's equal pay response flub goes viral

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Courtesy ABC News
By Alana Abramson

A recent report shows that in 40 percent of families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men–what does this say about society?

When the 21-year-old Miss Utah Marissa Powell was faced with this question last night during the Miss USA pageant, she responded that it somehow says something about education and the need to make it better because men are leaders. But she did not seem to be sure exactly what.

"I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to … figure out how to create jobs right now and that is the biggest problem. Especially the men are um, seen as the leaders of this and so we need to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem," Powell said.

Powell's response, particularly the part about "create education better" immediately went viral on social media for its incoherence.

The multitude of responses on Twitter included The Atlantic Wire classifying her answer the "Worst You've Ever Seen;" Business Insider claiming that "Miss Utah Completely Falls Apart While Answering An Easy Question About Women Earning Less Than Men;" and The New York Post calling it a "painfully awful pageant answer."

Read more about the study on female breadwinners that fueled Miss Utah's question.

Her comments immediately drew comparisons to Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA in 2007. When Upton was asked why a fifth of Americans cannot locate the United States on a world map, she gave a similarly rambling answer, including an explanation that "some people out there in our nation don't have maps."

According to her profile on the Miss USA website, Powell, a Salt Lake City native, is a singer, model and actress. She has appeared on ABC's "What Would you Do?" and is the ambassador for "Healing Hands for Haiti," which aims to bring rehabilitation medicine to the country. She has attended Westminster College and Brigham Young University. Her profile explains that she wants to be an advocate for adoption. Her parents adopted her little brother, who was subsequently diagnosed with several medical issues, including an inoperable brain tumor. Powell finished third in the contest. Erin Brady, Miss Connecticut, took home the crown.

 

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