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Frequently Asked Questions


How do I enter?

You need to win a local competition to be eligible to compete in the Miss Iowa program. Local pageants are held at different locations around the state from late June through April to qualify for the state competition, which is always the first full week of June. To enter, please contact us HERE to find out which locals you are eligible to enter.

What’s the difference between Miss America Organization (MAO) and other programs?

MAO is a not-for-profit organization committed to staying the largest provider of scholarship money for women in the world. Our evaluation system emphasizes community service, education, and personal achievements.

Before you enter this or any program of this nature, we would encourage you to find out as much as you can about the goals, motivations, and integrity of the organization. For more information about the Miss America System, please visit www.missamerica.org

What’s a platform?

A platform is an issue of special interest to a contestant that she advocates during her year of service. Each year, MAO contestants across the country log more than 500,000 community service hours towards their platforms. Platform topics range widely, and the Miss Iowa Organization encourages its participants to choose a platform they are eager to serve. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, health issues, education, literacy, volunteerism, school-to-work programs, disease awareness, care for senior citizens, youth ministry, hunger, homelessness, women’s issues, veteran’s affairs, mentoring, organ and tissue donation, arts in education, recycling, environmental issues, drug abuse prevention, tobacco awareness, AIDS awareness, eating disorders awareness, breast cancer education, self-esteem, patriotism, etc.

What happens if I win?

If you win, you will become Miss Iowa for the period of one year. You will advance to the Miss America pageant for the chance to compete for more scholarship money and the title of Miss America.

As Miss Iowa, you will be expected to promote your platform by touring the state giving speeches and interviews, visiting schools, and doing presentations. Because Miss Iowa's schedule is so busy, she takes time off of work or school for a year to complete her year of service.

What happens if I don’t win?

If you don’t win at the local level, you are allowed to enter other local programs to qualify for the state pageant.

If you don’t win at the state level, you will continue to hold your local title until your successor is named. Once you have given up your local title, you may enter other local programs to qualify for the next state program.

You may compete as many years as you are eligible. You may hold the same local title more than once, but NOT in consecutive years. If you win the state title, you are no longer eligible to compete at the local level in subsequent years.

What can I win?

Last year, MAO made more than $40 million in scholarship available to young women across the country.

In addition to scholarship money, we have very generous sponsors who help make it even more worthwhile to participate in the MAO system. Please CLICK HERE for a complete list of this year’s scholarships and prizes for winners, runners-up, and contestants. Prizes may vary from year to year.

What are the talent requirements?

Talent, or artistic expression, is designed to be a short presentation of a special skill. Talents must not exceed 90 seconds (including any taped accompaniment) and must obey all copyright laws and regulations.

What are the benefits of competing in this system?

You will develop skills in self-confidence, community involvement, social etiquette, interpersonal communication, volunteerism, self-expression, meeting people, traveling, networking, developing talents, public relations, business management, accounting, marketing, budgeting, and especially public speaking.

How much will I be expected to spend on wardrobe, training, etc?

You may use your own discretion, but it is not necessary to spend lots of money on clothes, make-up, hair, etc.

During an interview, Miss Iowa 2001 Erin Smith commented, “I spent no money to compete for my local. I borrowed a swimsuit from my sister and wore my high school prom dress for evening gown.”

How much does it cost to enter?

Contestants competing for a local, state and national Miss title never pay a fee to enter the competition.

How is the competition scored?

Interview - 25%
Talent - 35%
Lifestyle & Fitness - 15%
Evening Gown - 20%
On Stage Question - 5%

How do I choose a platform?

Above all, choose a platform you truly enjoy. You will be spending a lot of time with your platform (especially if you win, but even if you don’t). Choose a platform that can be applied to larger areas than your hometown in case you have to extend your service statewide or even nationwide. Try to avoid centering a platform around one event. Instead of choosing a telethon for AIDS research, for example, choose AIDS awareness (you can still use the telethon as one of your projects).

How can I tell if I’m eligible?

You must be a female who lives, works, or goes to school in the state of Iowa for at least six months prior to entering a local. You must be between the ages of 17-24, and a United States citizen.

How can I prepare for competition?

Practice your talent. Be sure that you are comfortable with your performance and that it meets the requirements.

Start thinking about the interview. Predict what kinds of questions you think you’ll be asked. Don’t memorize canned answers, but be ready for lots of different topics. Your local library, a university career center, and the Internet can be wonderful sources for information about effective interviewing. Pay attention to current events.

Get involved with your platform. Volunteer with an existing program or start your own. Keep track of the work you do.

Does Miss Iowa get paid to do all those things?

Yes. In addition to the automatic scholarship granted to Miss Iowa when she wins the pageant, Miss Iowa earns appearance fees for the majority of the events she does throughout the year.


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