Sage Steele’s star continues to shine brightly as the ABC & ESPN NBA Countdown host has been chosen to co-host the “2017 Miss America Competition” (Sunday, Sept. 11, 9 p.m. ET on ABC) with TV personality Chris Harrison (“The Bachelor,” “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”).
With eight weeks until the competition, Front Row caught up with Steele to discuss her thoughts on accepting this prestigious role.
What was your reaction when you heard you’d be named co-host for the 2017 Miss America Competition?
When I was first asked if I was interested, I couldn’t stop smiling because it brought back wonderful, funny memories from my childhood. Whenever our extended families got together, I would wake up in the morning and walk downstairs with big, poofy, out-of-control hair and my grandmother and aunt would start to sing, “. . . There she is. . . Miss America. . . ” the theme song for the pageant; in jest, of course! I also made sure to watch the show every year with my family. We’d all keep track of the ladies during the show and see who could accurately predict the winner. So, 30-plus years later, I was (and still am!) surprised and thrilled to be asked to co-host such a prestigious event! I only wish my grandmother were still around to witness it.
In what ways does your ESPN experience help prepare you for an event like this?
Live television has always been my absolute favorite aspect of our industry, and I actually feel like I’m at my best when we are live. I also absolutely love live audiences. My favorite time of the year nowadays is the NBA Finals because that’s when we take NBA Countdown on the road. The energy the crowds bring is electric, and from what I have heard and seen, the audiences at the Miss America Competition can be quite raucous! I derive energy from that and I can’t wait to experience it. Just like my normal job, there’s a lot of ad-libbing and reacting during this competition.
What do you hope to add to the 2017 Miss America Competition broadcast?
First of all, I’ll have an awesome teammate up on that stage with me in Chris Harrison. He’s been doing this for a long time. This is his eighth year hosting — and he is an absolute riot. He’s also a former sportscaster, so we have a ton in common! I just want to match Chris’ enthusiasm for this event, and help the audience fully understand the magnitude of what these women have already achieved, and what is to come.
Just like the athletes I’ve covered for the past 21 years, these young women have worked their entire lives to earn a spot on this stage. The competition is fierce because so much is on the line as they represent their families, their cities, their states and their country. I hope to bring my normal enthusiasm to the show because I truly do admire the hard work and dedication of these women and their families. The countdown is on!