BOSTON (CBS) – A Maine woman who once faced nationwide backlash for her volunteer work won the Miss Maine USA 2016 title on Sunday.
WBZ-TV first told you about Marisa Butler in July. The 21-year-old from Standish is an amateur fisher who participates in NOAA’s shark-tagging program. When animal activists criticized photographs of Butler with sharks, she explained to reporters at the time that conservation is part of her pageant platform and that she hoped to change the public’s perception of the creatures.
In her third attempt at a Maine USA crown, Butler topped 25 other contestants at this year’s competition in Portland. Other award winners included Brooke Harris, Jasmin White, Sara Disselkamp and Tiara Willis. The new Miss Maine USA will go onto compete at the Miss USA pageant next year with fellow New England queens Whitney Sharpe of Massachusetts and Jessica Strohm of New Hampshire.
Also crowned Sunday was the new Miss Maine Teen USA, Jessica Stewart of Unity. This was the 17-year-old’s second try for the title. Stewart beat out 26 other teenagers for the chance to compete in the Miss Teen USA 2016 pageant. Rounding out the top five finalists in the teen division were Paige Veilleux-Adams, Sarah Holdsworth, Mariah Higgins and Nathalie Pierce.
The Miss Maine USA state pageant is run by Clemente Productions as part of the Miss Universe Organization. The pageant system ran into controversy last year when former owner Donald Trump launched his bid for president. Trump has since sold the Miss Universe Organization to WME/IMG, paving the way for the pageant’s return to network television.