Miss America Winner’s Pageant Coach Praises Cup Performance

Bill Alverson has coached the past three Miss America winners.

— -- You could call him a three-time winner of the Miss America competition, coaching three pageant champs in a row.

The interview coach for Miss New York Kira Kazantsev, who was crowned Miss America on Sunday, praised her performance with a red plastic cup, saying it created a successful “intimate moment” that connected her to the judges.

“What people forget is only the judges were voting, they were right in front of her,” Bill Alverson told ABC’s Juju Chang in a Skype interview today. “It was like they were sitting in her living room, and they got a chance to really see this girl that they fell in love with in the interview, they had seen compete all week, and look at her calmness and her presence and she’s together, and boom, she did it.”

For her talent portion of the competition, Kazantsev sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the judges and sang Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy,” while banging a red plastic cup to the beat. Her performance, which she said was inspired by the movie, “Pitch Perfect,” immediately set off a firestorm of comments on social media, many of which criticized her.

“It’s not ‘America’s Got Talent’ and it’s not ‘American Idol,’” Alverson said. “There were other talents that were stronger, there were other talents that were weaker but what people are forgetting is stage presence and presentation to millions of people on TV and thousands of people in that arena, she sat down on the stage and made it an intimate moment.”

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Bill Alverson, a father of three grown children and seasoned trial lawyer in Andalusia, Alabama, is one of the most successful and sought-after pageant coaches in the United States. His specialty is perfecting prospective beauty queens’ answers during interview portions of competition.

Kazantsev is Alverson’s third Miss America winner in a row. He had previously coached the past two Miss Americas, Nina Davuluri and Mallory Hagan, both also formerly Miss New York. In fact, Alverson coached six of the 53 women who vied for the 2015 Miss America title over the weekend.

Before Kazantsev took the stage Sunday night, Alverson said he went through one last prep session with her and told her, “at any given time, in your answer Top Five, let them see your ability to have fairness, equality, justice, if it’s gender equality, sexual equality, racial equality, wherever we are, where we’ve gone, and where we’re going to be.”

When it was her turn for the interview portion, Kazantsev named combating sexual assault against women in the military as the issue she wants female U.S. senators to press on their male counterparts, which Alverson said was “brilliant.”

Alverson regularly hosts private sessions with clients of all ages and will occasionally host three-day pageant clinics on weekends in the Alabama region for $125 an hour.