Molly Matney, a 20-year-old junior at Western Kentucky University, won the 2017 Miss Kentucky pageant on Saturday night.
Shortly after accepting the crown and a bouquet of roses from the outgoing 2016 Miss Kentucky, Laura Jones, a joyful Matney said she did not expect to win.
“I told my mom last night, I said, ‘It’s not me,’” Matney said. “But I thought if the Lord thought it was the right time — that’s what I was praying while we were in the circle, that it would be — so I guess it’s the right time. Hopefully, I can do good with this.”
Matney, who had been Miss Mammoth Cave Area, was one of 30 contestants from across the commonwealth to compete at the University of Kentucky’s Singletary Center for the Arts.
The women were judged in categories including talent, swimsuits, evening wear and impromptu questions and answers. Matney’s question was about the large salaries of college coaches compared to faculty; she said faculty “should be paid so much more than they are now.”
Having grown up in a Metcalfe County farm family, Matney is studying agriculture at WKU and wants to become an agricultural lending executive. She said her platform during her year as Miss Kentucky will be “farm fit,” teaching schoolchildren to stay healthy by eating locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Matney said her platform should mesh well with Miss Kentucky’s duties as a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud program, which promotes food grown on the state’s farms.
“It ties in perfectly,” she said. “This is my dream job. I can’t even explain how it feels. I’ll get to speak to so many kids, so it’s amazing and I feel so blessed.”
Matney also will get to represent Kentucky on Sept. 10 at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.
One of the people cheering her on in New Jersey will be her grandmother, Shirley Matney, who said last night at the Singletary Center that she predicted Molly would win Miss Kentucky.
“She is as perfect inside as she is outside. She is a wonderful person, not just a beautiful person,” Shirley Matney said. “She will look at anyone and smile. She has all of the qualities a Miss Kentucky and a Miss America ought to have.”