Judge NeNe Leakes asked Marissa Powell what it says about society that women earn less than men

By Dahvi Shira
June 17, 2013 01:25 PM
Ethan Miller/Getty

Not since Lauren Caitlin Upton’s mangled response in 2007’s Miss Teen USA competition has a finalist’s answer in a pageant picked up traction like it did on Sunday night.

With six finalists remaining in Las Vegas’s Miss USA competition, it was Miss Utah Marissa Powell’s turn to answer a question that could make or break her chances of winning the crown.

“A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men,” announced one of the judges, NeNe Leakes. “What does this say about society?”

Flashing her pearly whites, Powell, 20, began: “I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to …”

Then with an awkward pause and a big smile, she continued, “Figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem. I think especially the men are seen as the leaders of this, so we need to figure out how to create education better so we can solve this problem.”

Powell walked away with a smile, and so did the web, as commentary flew left and right about the contestant’s botched answer.

But the results weren’t too harsh for the brunette beauty. She still managed to finish as the third runner-up.