The Miss USA beauty contest has been held annually since 1952 to select the United States entrant in the Miss Universe pageant. The Miss Universe Organization operates both pageants, as well as Miss Teen USA.
The modern pageant consists of a preliminary competition held a week before the pageant when all contestants are judged in swimsuit, gown and interview. From this, semifinalists are chosen, and they are announced during the live broadcast of the final competition. These semifinalists then compete in swimsuit and evening gown, and the finalists are chosen. This is when the interview competition is held. The runners-up and winner are announced at the end of the telecast. Since 1997, the judges for the finals have been different from those who judged the Preliminary competition.
From 1975–2000, all delegates who made the initial cut competed in an interview competition in some format, often involving all semi-finalists. As of 2001, this interview portion was taken away, leaving only the final question for the top five delegates to answer.
From 1979–2002, the average scores of each delegate were shown on the television broadcast and thus the semi-finalists could be ranked. This was changed in 2003 to a "circle" system where judges choose a certain number of delegates to "circle", and those with the most "circles" made the cut. This was the same system that was used prior to the computer scoring system implemented in 1979. In 2007, this system came back and contestants' composite scores are shown live.