Beauty Pageant Costs: Guide to Miss America, Miss USA, United States National


By Lyndsi


Though beauty pageants might be perceived in a certain way due to Toddlers & Tiaras, we all know that pageants are so much more than what’s portrayed on reality TV. Beauty pageants inspire women of all ages to increase their confidence, professionalism, and most of all, their self worth.
“I have personally seen the difference pageants can make in a young woman’s self-confidence and her ability to present herself in interviews and in front of large audiences,” said Sabrina Nooruddin in USA Today. “Even my own mother, the ultimate pageant skeptic, is a true believer in the confidence and character that pageantry builds.”

Even with all of the positives, competing in pageants can be an expensive hobby. From the plane flights, hotels, evening gowns, bathing suits, and even down to your spray tan, many women find themselves stopping before they even start. If you’ve ever considered competing in a pageant but were deterred because of the costs, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve found ways to cut pageant costs so you can focus on the most important thing: the competition itself.



How do I know which pageant is right for me?


To start, there are three major US pageants: Miss AmericaMiss USA (as part of Miss Universe), and the United States National Pageant, Miss United States. There are also an array of smaller, lesser- known pageants, like America’s Elite Miss and Miss Scuba International, just to name a few! Each pageant has different admission fees (if any), competition requirements, age requirements, and even marital requirements, so it’s important to figure out which pageant is right for you before competing!


Miss America:


  • As the first United States beauty pageant, The Miss America organization prides itself on offering millions of dollars in scholarships to young women each year. With no competition fees for local pageants, Miss America is an incredible opportunity for women aged 17-24 to actively work at paying their college tuition, admission fees, or their staggering amounts of student debt while learning valuable personal and professional skills. “In my time competing with the Miss America Organization, I earned over $20,000 in scholarships which allowed me to graduate from San Diego State University debt free!” said Marina Inserra, Miss California 2014.

Miss USA:


  • As part of the Miss Universe organization, Miss USA is a great pageant for women aged 18-28 to compete if they’re looking to compete at an international level. With the words, “Confidently Beautiful” all over their website, Miss USA “…. empowers women to develop the confidence they need to achieve their personal best. A confident woman has the power to make real change, starting in her local community with the potential to reach a global audience.”  
  • Miss USA contestants do not need to compete at a local level to compete at the state level, as anyone can apply to compete as long as they pay the application and competition fees. To save money, however, women can compete at the local level to receive sponsorships to compete at the state pageant. Additionally, Miss USA does not include a talent portion of the competition.

United States National Pageant:


  • As a newer beauty pageant organization, the Miss United States National Pageant inspires women to create positive change in their communities. With no talent competition and a much larger age bracket, Miss United States gives women of all ages and professions the opportunity to compete for the crown. It’s also one of the few pageants that allow married women to compete, so many pay the pageant participation fees for this reason.


Beauty Pageants Are Expensive: Evening gowns, bathing suits, fake eyelashes; oh my!


With the average cost of competing in a pageant ranging between $810-$2,900 (sans admission fees) according to NPR, it’s important to create a budget and cut costs wherever possible. If you’re within the age limit of Miss America, I strongly suggest competing in many local pageants, both to avoid competition fees, and to gain experience. Additionally, here are some of our top money saving tips for pageant contestants:


Do your pre-pageant prep online


  • Deciding to compete in a pageant is a very exciting moment, but the preparation that comes with it can seem overwhelming! Considering contestants will be looked at on stage from every angle, many work with personal trainers and nutritionists before stepping on stage. With personal trainers ranging from $60 to $300 per session, contestants should consider cheaper online alternatives before taking out another loan. There are plenty of Instagram accounts that offer nutrition and exercise plans at a fraction of the cost of one personal training session. Instagram fitness influencer, Kayla Itsines, offers a 12-week Bikini Body Guide (BBG) that her 7.1 million followers swear by. 

Borrow, or purchase a used dress (Or, Saying “yes” to the dress)


  • With the evening gown portion often being a quarter of your score, many contestants shell out thousands of dollars to not only find the perfect dress, but to be sure it’s tailored specifically for them. Many dresses are dripping with Swarovski crystals to sparkle on stage, so you know that the price tag is not cheap. Though not advertised, many contestants share that they’ve borrowed their evening gowns from friends, purchased used prom dresses, or even picked up a wedding dress from a resale website. The price of the dress is obviously not revealed to the judges, so the most important factor is how amazing it makes you feel.

Do your own makeup, eyelashes, spray tan, etc.


  • After spending months to prepare, it’s important that you feel like the best version of yourself stepping onto that stage! Many contestants invest in spray tans, fake eyelashes, makeup lessons, hair styling lessons, and talent and posing coaches to prepare for the pageant. While these costs might be large initially, these acquired skills will benefit you for years to come. Miss California 2014, Marina Inserra, competed in pageants for 8 years, and did her own hair and makeup for each one. Considering the average price for wedding makeup is $80 per session, you can imagine how much Marina saved by learning to do it herself! 

You never know until you ask! (Getting financial support from your community)


  •  Competing for a local, state, or national title is truly an accomplishment, and you know how proud your friends, family, and community would be to call you their titleholder! With pageants offering so many benefits to the community, it’s natural to ask your community for help in return. With crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe helping collect support from your community and even sponsorships from local businesses, raising money for pageant costs has never been easier!


 Respect the Hustle


  • Since 91% of global consumers are willing to switch to a brand that’s associated with a good cause, business sponsorships should be something that pageant participants take very seriously. Finding local businesses to sponsor your participation is a great way to gain valuable business experience, while also offering a unique advertising opportunity to showcase the brand to a very specific and captivated audience. While approaching a business initially can be scary, just remember that the opportunity you’re offering can have a significantly positive impact on their business!  After all, you can feature them, and thank them, both on your GoFundMe and in appearances related to your participation.


 Lean on your Community


  • Let’s take a look at how these pageant participants leveraged their community by creating crowdfunding campaigns.


Miss California 2014 isn’t done yet!



After winning Miss California in 2014, Marina thought her pageant days were over… until she saw the Miss Scuba International competition! The opportunity to represent the US while being a voice for women in diving and ocean conservation was too exciting for the SeaWorld employee to pass up. With only 10 days before her flight to Malaysia, Marina turned to her community to ask for help for a variety of items that she needed for her pageant. By clearly listing each item on her GoFundMe, Marina was able to raise enough money (with $40 to spare) just in time for her flight to Malaysia!



Rachel leans on her hometown to receive support to compete in Miss Texas USA



Thrilled to be crowned Miss Colleyville 2017, Rachel has the honor to compete in the Miss Texas USA 2018 pageant in Houston, and couldn’t be more thrilled! “Little girls with big dreams become women with vision, and I can honestly say that my dreams from childhood have and continue to become my reality,” Rachel says in her GoFundMe. Similarly to other pageant contestants, Rachel relies heavily on the emotional support of her loved ones. Creating her GoFundMe is an easy way for them to support her financially through donations, emotionally through comments, and spread awareness throughout the community by sharing her GoFundMe!


Summer is thrilled to represent her small town at a National Level



After becoming a semi-finalist at Colorado Teen USA to then become the state “Colorado Teen 2017,” Summer was ecstatic at the opportunity to compete in the Princess America National Pageant in Orlando. Being from a small town of roughly 9,000 people, Summer was determined to make both the city of Trinidad and the state of Colorado proud! Surpassing her GoFundMe goal by $1,280, she was able to donate the remaining funds to the Princess America platform of, “Give Kids the World.”


Ready to step onto that stage?


We know how much planning it takes to compete in your first pageant, and finances should be the last thing on your mind! With a rigorous exercise regimen, your calculated meal plan, and appointments with various pageant coaches, it’s important to feel financially prepared when you decide to start competing.


Starting a GoFundMe for your pageant is a great way to share the exciting news with your friends, family, and community while setting your savings account up for success. Join other pageant contestants on GoFundMe by starting your campaign today.

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