Is a Pageant Your Big Break or Will You Break the Bank?

beauty pageant 150x150 Is a Pageant Your Big Break or Will You Break the Bank?With all of the reality shows on TV, it’s easy to see how parents of young children, teens and others may be convinced that they are the next big star just waiting to be discovered. Participating in beauty pageants may provide a rewarding experience and there are plenty of legitimate pageants out there, but some would-be contestants find that not all pageant promoters deliver what they promise or that the enterprise may be far more costly than they ever realized.

BBB advises that parents look beyond the glitz and do their homework on any pageant before making a major investment, in dollars or in dreams.

Here are some questions to ask:

How long has the business been operating pageants?  Who are the directors? Usually pageants are operated by for-profit organizations that solicit participants through mail and print advertising, and broadcast media, to compete for recognition and prizes from the promoter.

What is the total cost of pageant participation for both the entrant and the chaperone?  Oftentimes, family or business sponsors are asked to pay a sponsorship fee which can vary in size, to the pageant promoter, to cover hotel rental fees, awards, administrative costs, salary for business personnel, and generate profits.  Also, keep in mind that there are other costs for entrants, such as clothing, make-up, food, travel and lodging.

Can the location (place of business) of the pageant business be verified? Where and when will the actual pageant be held?  What accommodations are provided for contestants?  Will there be adequate supervision?

Do the details add up?  What are the judges’ qualifications?  Do they have any affiliation with the business?  Is a refund possible if a contestant decides to withdraw?  What criteria are used for selecting the winners?  What are the obligations of the winning contestant?  What do former contestants and winners have to say about the pageant?  Ask the business for references.  Finally, what benefit will be derived from participating or winning?

Do the winnings sound too good to be true?  If so, they probably are.  Be sure to read any contract carefully and thoroughly before entering a pageant to understand the financial obligations, rights and responsibilities of the winner or other contestants.

And always be sure to check the business out at

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About Trisha Sefakis

I started at BBB|Cincinnati in 2004 as the Database Coordinator, I am now the Manager of Digital Media.