71-year-old woman makes history as oldest woman to compete for Miss Texas USA

Following a recent rule change, Marissa Teijo, the oldest contestant in history, was eligible to participate in the Miss Texas USA 2024 pageant.

Miss Texas USA

Marissa Teijo has fulfilled her dream of competing in the Miss Texas USA pageant — at 71 years old. 

Over the weekend, Teijo and 74 other women participated in the Houston pageant, with Aarienna Ware ultimately crowned the winner June 22. However, Teijo stood out throughout the competition, making history as the oldest contestant to ever compete in Miss Texas USA, the organization confirmed to NBC News. 

About a month before her historic day, Teijo gushed about the pageant and explained why she signed up in an Instagram post. 

“I am delighted to be a part of this incredible new experience as a contestant in the Miss Texas USA pageant,” she said. “In doing so, I hope to inspire women to strive to be their best physical and mental self and believe there is beauty at any age.”

Leading up to the competition, she shared information about the different sponsors she received and the growing support from fans. 

On June 16, she wrote, “Thank you to all my sponsors-your support has meant so much to me. All of your generous donations have made my participation in the Miss Texas USA possible.”

She added, “I can’t wait to show we all have a new stage of opportunity, strength, and beauty!”

Teijo was eligible to compete in the pageant following a recent rule change that removed age limits, NBC News confirmed. 

In another rule change, increasing the competitions inclusivity, the Miss Texas USA website reveals that since 2023 “women who are or have been married, as well as women who are pregnant or have children” have been able to participate, as well. 

This year’s two-day event began June 21 at the Hilton Houston Post Oak Hotel. Teijo, representing Paso Del Norte, shared a photo of her posing on a red carpet after arriving in H-Town. 

The contestants were judged in three categories: personal interview, swimsuit and evening gown. Ware, who represented Dallas, was crowned Miss Texas USA 2024.

The pageant’s Instagram page uploaded a video June 22 from the moment Ware was awarded the coveted title. She strutted across the stage while holding a bouquet of flowers to celebrate her win. 

She will now prepare for the Miss USA competition, which will air live on The CW on Aug. 4.

The upcoming pageant comes after months of controversy surrounding the organization. In May, former Miss USA 2023 winner Noelia Voigt announced on Instagram that she was resigning to prioritize her mental health. A few days later, Miss USA Teen 2023 UmaSofia Srivastava and former Miss Colorado USA 2023 Arianna Lemus revealed they also decided to renounce their titles. 

Lemus said her decision was an act of “solidarity” with Voigt and Srivastava. “Silencing women is not the definition of pageantry,” she said in the caption on her post. 

In response to the resignations, the Miss USA organization, which is owned by Miss Universe Organization, issued statements on social media

“We respect and support Noelia’s decision to step down from her duties. The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time,” the Miss USA organization said, in part, thanking Voigt for her “service.”

similar statement was posted on the Miss Teen USA Instagram account to address Srivastava’s departure.  

The organization did not comment on Lemus’ resignation.

This article first appeared on TODAY.com. Read more from TODAY here:

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