When I was young, it was incredibly exciting when Owensboro, or even Kentucky, made national headlines. As a kid, it made me feel like everyone in my TOWN was a celebrity. Today, with social media platforms, it's much easier to have those "15 minutes of fame" Andy Warhol said we'd all enjoy at some point than it was 40 or more years ago.

1980: Owensboro Native, DCHS Graduate Is a Top Five Finalist

Lisa Devillez graduated with my sister in 1978, LOOOOONG before the Internet and, certainly, ANY form of social media. So I didn't know an Owensboroan was even going to be in the pageant until a story about her impending appearance on national television popped up in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. As a huge fan of The Price Is Right, I was kind of giddy that someone my sister knew was going to meet Bob Barker. I was playing "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" before any of us even knew who Kevin Bacon was.

At the 15:48 mark, Barker interviews Lisa Devillez:

Ultimately, Lisa Devillez finished in fifth place, but what a run for this Owensboro native. At the very least, as a finalist, we got to see her for the entire broadcast.

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1982: Owensboro Native, DCHS Graduate Is a Top Five Finalist -- the Sequel

Two years later, history would repeat itself as Kristina Chapman of Owensboro--ALSO a Daviess County High School graduate--enjoyed a long run at the Miss USA pageant. Her question from Bob Barker in the semi-finals comes at the 9:37 mark:

And, like Lisa, when Kristina made the top five, she got her final question from Barker, which comes at the 3:23 mark:

History would continue to repeat itself as Kristina Chapman, like Lisa Devillez before her, finished in fifth place, allowing us to enjoy her appearance for the entirety of the show.

Other Kentucky Representatives and Winners in the Miss USA Pageant

Johanna Reid in 1964, Julie Andrus in 1965, Patricia Barnstable in 1971, Kristen Johnson in 2005, and Maria Montgomery in 2009 are other Kentucky representatives who made the Miss USA finals.

In 2006, Tara Conner--born in Dallas, Texas but raised in Russell Springs--became the first Kentucky contestant to win the Miss USA title. In 2021, Elle Smith--a reporter for WHAS-Louisville--became the second.

Let's Not Forget Miss America 2000

And I have to include Heather French Henry--Heather French at the time--who became Miss America 2000 in September of 1999. To date, she's the only Kentuckian to win that pageant.

Even WITH the availability of YouTube and TikTok, which make it easier to be recognized nationally or globally, it's still exciting to see Owensboro representations on a grander scale.

When I Say 'Owensboro in the 1990s,' YOU Say...

We're having some fun and reminiscing about the 1990s in Owensboro. And it's bringing back so many memories.

Gallery Credit: Dave Spencer

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