We’ve got a new Miss USA and she’s a beauty! Mississippi’s Asya Branch took home the 2020 crown, and we’ve got five things to know about her.
Despite the coronavirus requiring masks and social distancing to pull off the Miss USA 2020 pageant, the pageant went ahead and crowned a new winner. Miss Mississippi Asya Branch, 22, beat out contestants from 49 other states and the District of Columbia on Nov. 9 to take home the title in a ceremony that took place in Memphis, TN. The competition had originally been scheduled for last spring, but postponed due to COVID-19.
The preliminary judging round took place on Nov. 6 from the soundstage at Graceland, the former home of the late Elvis Presley. The contestants donned gowns by Sherri Hill and two-piece swimsuits by SwimOutlet along with lightweight capes for the prelim round. Asya then beat out the 16 finalists who made it thought on the Nov. 9 final portion of the competition which aired on FYI. We’ve got five things to know about Asya.
— Miss USA (@MissUSA) November 10, 2020
1. Asya is the first Black woman from Mississippi to be named Miss U.S.A. Despite making up almost 40 percent of Mississippi’s population, Asya is the first Black contestant from the state to take home the top honor at the pageant’s national level. She’s been a past pageant winner, taking home Ole Miss’ Most Beautiful 2018 at her alma mater, the University of Mississippi.
2. Asya is passionate about important topics. In her question and answer portion, she said that our divided nation can find a path towards healing through the restoration of both faith in our government and the media which reports on it. Asya also said that “We should require people to pass training and safety classes” before attaining guns,” during her final statement before winning the Miss USA title.
3. Asya is dedicated to working on prison reform. After winning Miss Mississippi, Asya told fans in an Instagram post that “I’m passionate about helping people, more specifically, at risk children and the incarcerated.” She then went on to reveal, “I grew up as the child of an incarcerated parent. Through the financial, mental, and emotional hardships that I faced, I learned to overcome obstacles and defy odds, but I also learned how unjust our justice system actually is. I learned that many people behind bars don’t actually belong there. I learned that systemic racism does in fact truly exist. I learned that incarceration is a shared family sentence.” Asya added that, “I’m grateful for the hardships that I faced because they shaped me into who I am today and made me a voice for the unheard.”
4. Asya is a pet owner. She’s the proud mom to two dogs. Asya is frequently seen on her personal Instagram page in photos with her beloved chihuahua mix Jonas. In Aug. 2020, she adopted a sweet little mixed-breed pup named Titan.
5. Asya made sure to vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Civic-minded Asya shared an Oct. 12 Instagram photo of her mailing in her ballot to the Prentiss County Clerk’s office from her tiny northern Mississippi town of Boonesville. “I’ll be filming Miss USA during the election, but I couldn’t miss voting! I cast my absentee ballot!” she wrote in the caption.