Swindell will be one of the celebrity judges at the Miss America competition on Sunday, Sept. 11 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“I think I’ve gotten more texts about this than I have any of my other achievements,” Swindell tells PEOPLE. “I like my buddies to come out to shows on weekends, but they hardly ever get to any. Yet I have had quite a few requests for this run, which we happen to end in Atlantic City. That’s pretty funny. They said it’s just coincidence, but I don’t know if I believe that. I told them I’d have to do this trip myself.”
And while his friends might be disappointed, Swindell is nothing but excited.
“They didn’t have to twist my arm too hard,” jokes the singer. “Honestly, it’s just something that you grow up with. Everybody watches it, and hey, it’s a lot of pretty girls.”
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So what is Swindell looking for in a potential Miss America? “Just being from where I’m from, a little small town,” he says. “I feel like I’m a good judge of character. I think Miss America needs to be genuine and hopefully I can help see through to that. Hopefully I can pick out a good girl, because I know they’re all going to be gorgeous and smart.”
And it seems he’s also going to be a sympathetic judge, since he knows firsthand how hard it can be to take the stage in front of a huge crowd.
“I think the interview part is the toughest,” he admits. “When I’m up on stage, I know the words and it’s my show. But these girls, they’re having to come up with some great answer to a question that I don’t want to be asked! I think a lot of us watching are like, ‘How are you supposed to answer that on the spot?’ It’s a tough spot. Every year there’s always this huge joke because somebody says something crazy that they didn’t mean to say, but they were just trying to get it out in the moment. I have sympathy for that, so hopefully they all do well and it’s going to be a good night for all of them.”
“He said I better keep my best poker face on, because these pretty girls are walking right at you and it’s intimidating. You can’t let them know what you’re thinking, you know. That might be the tough part. We’ll just have to see how it is when I get there.”
Good luck with that, Cole!
Miss America 2017 airs live on ABC Sunday at 9 p.m. E.T.