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'Grandma, it's Miss USA': Pageant winner gets surprise reunion

June 18, 2013 at 10:45 AM ET

Video: The newly crowned Miss USA Erin Brady, 25, talks about being one of the older competitors, saying maturity is “an advantage,” and reunites with her grandmother who wasn’t able to attend the pageant in Las Vegas.

When Miss USA Erin Brady was growing up in Connecticut, her grandmother would often encourage her and her sisters to put on pretend pageants where they were crowned the winner.

Sunday night, after that fantasy came true, Brady called her grandmother and said, "Grandma, it's Miss USA."

Brady knew her win would mean she'd be separated from her beloved grandmother for months. But on TODAY Tuesday, Miss Connecticut and the woman who inspired her were able to share a surprise hug.

Recently-crowned Miss USA Erin Brady has a surprise reunion on TODAY with her grandmother, Theresa Brady, who inspired her as a young girl.
TODAY
Recently-crowned Miss USA Erin Brady has a surprise reunion on TODAY with her grandmother, Theresa Brady, who inspired her as a young girl.

“Oh my God, my heart is racing,’’ a tearful Brady said as her grandmother, Theresa, appeared in Studio 1A. “You made my day.”

Miss Connecticut takes the Miss USA crown

Theresa Brady told Erin and Matt Lauer about watching Erin earn the Miss USA crown on TV.

Theresa Brady joked that "it's a wonder the police didn't come, we were so loud with joy,'' when talking about the reaction of seeing her granddaughter become Miss USA.
TODAY
Theresa Brady joked that "it's a wonder the police didn't come, we were so loud with joy,'' when talking about the reaction of seeing her granddaughter become Miss USA.

“You just wouldn’t want to be in my living room,’’ Theresa said. “It’s a wonder the police didn’t come. We were just so loud and so with joy. What a day.”

Miss Utah gets second chance to answer 'confusing' question

“She couldn’t be there to see me, but she said she was screaming at the top of her lungs,’’ Erin said.


Theresa was a strong figure during a turbulent upbringing for Erin, who was independent at a young age and dealt with family members' alcoholism. In addition to raising awareness about breast cancer during her travels as Miss USA, she also wants to help children in families affected by drug and alcohol abuse.

Miss USA Erin Brady (at right, seated next to Miss Utah Marissa Powell) was stunned to see her beloved grandmother show up on the set of TODAY.
TODAY
Miss USA Erin Brady (at right, seated next to Miss Utah Marissa Powell) was stunned to see her beloved grandmother show up on the set of TODAY after thinking she wouldn't see her for at least another few months.

“I just want people to know that you don’t have to get caught up with things like that,’’ she told Lauer. “You can actually make a better change for yourself and you can come out on top, and not be a stereotype and not fall into the tradition that sometimes happens when you’re in a family of that kind of reputation. You can rise up and become Miss USA.”

Image: Miss Connecticut Erin Brady reacts as she is crowned by Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether during the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas
Steve Marcus
Fifty-one hopefuls were whittled down to one winner after the swimsuit, evening gown and interview competitions.

The Bradys' emotional reunion had TODAY viewers tearing up as well.






At 25, Brady was one of the older contestants in the field, and she believes her age was an asset in the competition.

“I think that maturity-wise, you’re at a different state,’’ she said. “I’m more comfortable with myself now than I was two, three, four years ago when most people do compete. Maturity does help.”

Brady is leaving her career as an accountant for her Miss USA obligations.

“It’s always been a passion of mine,’’ she said about the Miss USA competition. “I’ve always wanted to pursue it. I had said to myself, ‘You know what, I think it’s time for a change, I’m think I’m going to go for it.’’’

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