Pitbull, Brett Eldredge join Julianne Hough in Miss USA lineup

Updated May 10, 2017 - 9:45 am

A blockbuster lineup of entertainment talent is in place for Sunday’s Fox telecast of The Miss USA Pageant from Mandalay Bay Events Center. “Dancing With the Stars” beauty Julianne Hough and three-time Emmy Award nominee Terrence J return for a second year to host the competition. Body activist, model and designer Ashley Graham returns as backstage host.

I’m assured, in case you are wondering, that Steve Harvey, who was at the center of the incorrect announcement storm of the Miss Universe winner (Colombia instead of The Philippines, which he corrected shortly after the mistake), will be back to host the next Miss Universe Pageant per his contract.

Additionally, Grammy Award winner and Axis at Planet Hollywood headliner Pitbull and Country Music Award-winning and Las Vegas regular singer-songwriter Brett Eldredge will perform during the telecast. The show will open with a performance by the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay.

Paula Shugart, head of the parent Miss Universe Organization, told me this morning: “I sat in on rehearsals yesterday after the contestants went to see it. It was my third time, and you couldn’t have a better opening number of acrobatics, dance and visual dynamic showmanship of The King of Pop. It’s truly Las Vegas and perfect for the Miss USA Pageant.”

Contestants representing all 50 states and The District of Columbia will compete for the opportunity of becoming the next Miss USA, and the two-hour special will conclude with the reigning Miss USA Deshauna Barber of The District of Columbia crowning her successor.

Now through Saturday, fans around the world can take a virtual seat at the judges’ table to help their favorite contestant advance to the finals. Additionally, on the night of the broadcast, viewers at home are encouraged to continue voting throughout the competition. To learn more, visit Vote.MissUSA.com.

The lineup of judges was finalized overnight and includes Halima Aden, a Somali-American IMG model and the first woman to compete in a Miss USA state pageant wearing a hijab and burkini. Miss USA 1997 Brook Lee, now a TV host and model who also won Miss Universe, returns as a judge to celebrate her 20th anniversary.

The other judges are Carson Kressley, Emmy Award-winning TV personality, style expert, fashion designer and The New York Times bestselling author; Jeannie Mai, co-host of “The Real”; Nancy Lublin, founder of Dress for Success, a nonprofit that empowers women to achieve economic independence, and CEO of Crisis Text Line, a free, 24/7 crisis support via text message; and Janet Mock, author, TV host and advocate who broke ground with her The New York Times bestseller “Redefining Realness,” and who continues to share her story about being a young trans woman in her new memoir, “Surpassing Certainty,” out June 13.

“We have a very impressive group of girls competing this year and just as impressive a lineup of judges to determine who will be the winner,” Paula summed up for me. “It’s a very interesting array of competitors this year that truly runs the gamut.”

Be sure to read our other Miss USA story later today with a look at the five immigrants competing and four of the most extraordinary stories of how the pageant queens overcame adversity and hardship to wind up in Las Vegas battling for the Miss USA title.

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