Viewers of the Miss America pageant might not recognize judge Kevin O’Leary, but he’s well-known to fans of the hit ABC show Shark Tank. Those fans can expect the show’s resident “Mr. Wonderful” to bring his same brand of critique to the Sunday night event, as he is one of the celebrity judges who will choose who goes home with the crown.
As O’Leary told channel 6 ABC Philadelphia, he’s not looking for the best smile or poise. He wants to hear what the winner will do with her new found prestige.
“Tell me you’re going to use the platform and the branding to start a business and I will make you Miss America because that’s an amazing outcome for somebody. It’s not just about putting a crown on a beautiful woman, it’s about what she’s going to do with it from that second forward.”
He emphasized that Miss America is a well-known enterprise not only stateside, but around the world. It’s both an opportunity and a responsibility for the woman who earns the title.
“This is a global brand. You stop 10 people on the streets in Cambodia, half of them are going to know what Miss America is.”
O’Leary revealed he is already following all 52 contestants on social media. He may be serious about looking for an entrepreneurial spirit in the contenders. He recently revealed that he tends to make more money through businesses run by women than those run by men.
Attention has already been brought to this year’s Miss America pageant because of the return of Vanessa Williams, who will head up the judging panel. Williams, before she embarked on a successful acting and singing career, was the first African-American woman to win the Miss America crown. She was stripped of the honor when Penthouse published nude photographs from several years prior to the pageant.
O’Leary and Williams are part of a panel that also includes Zendaya and Brett Eldredge.
The Miss America pageant airs on ABC, the same network that broadcasts Shark Tank. Another ABC program, Dancing With the Stars, featured O’Leary’s Shark Tank colleague, Robert Herjavec, in last season’s competition.
The special is scheduled to air for two hours on Sunday evening, starting at 9 p.m. eastern, following a rerun of Shark Tank.
The new season of Shark Tank debuts on Friday, September 25. Its companion series, Beyond the Tank, begins its four-week event on Tuesday, September 29.
[Photo by Andrew Burton / Getty Images News]