MANSFIELD — Elizabetta Nies celebrated her 19th birthday on Saturday night at the Renaissance Theater in Mansfield while earning the Miss Ohio 2022 crown.

She will compete in the Miss America competition in December.

The Cincinnati resident sat down with Richland Source City Editor Carl Hunnell on Wednesday morning to talk about the last 72 hours, plans for her year-long reign — and some stuff maybe no one asked her about during her run to the title.

Here are excerpts from that conversation at Idea Works:

RS: Good morning. So what do people call you? What name do you prefer?

Nies: Betta.

RS: Was it really your birthday on Saturday?

Nies: It really was. June 18th, my birthday, but also the day I was crowned. So yeah, it’s going to be difficult to top in years to come.

RS: You had relatives compete at Miss America, is that right?

Nies: Yes. My mother (Kathleen) was Miss Illinois, 1992. My Aunt Monica was Miss Florida, 1985. And my other aunt, Mary Ann, was Miss New York 1984.

RS: How did they do at Miss America?

Nies: So … none of them are Miss America, unfortunately. I know that Aunt Mary Ann made the top 10 … and they were all classical pianists, just like I am. They all brought back talent awards from Miss America, which is exciting. There are 50 girls there, so if you come back with anything, it’s exciting.

RS: When your mom and aunts competed, Miss America was in Atlantic City. Where are they doing it now?

Nies: They do it in Connecticutt, in Uncasville, at the Mohegan Sun. It’s a bit of a different setting, but it’s still quite fun. And it’s a beautiful resort.

RS: One of the awards you picked up at Miss Ohio was in the interview competition. What is a question you’re happy no one asked you?

Nies: In preparing for Miss Ohio, you have to be updated on what’s going on politically, because you never know what they are going to ask you. You have to be on your toes to know what’s going on around the world.

(You have) to be able to respond with an opinion that doesn’t polarize any one side, but shows that you know it. I did a lot of news reading before and I was pretty glad they didn’t ask me about any controversial current event. They did edge on it, but nothing too terrible.

Miss Ohio poses with baby

RS: What advice have your mother and your aunts given to you about the Miss America experience? Any strategies on how to break through and be Top 10, Top 5?

Nies: Honestly, they have been big supporters of my journey. But the competition has changed so much since they competed that the advice they received and they used during their time that it isn’t really applicable.

They did give me a few tidbits. The first is to really just have fun and to savor every minute. That was definitely valuable to me (at Miss Ohio) because now I can look back see it as a time of joy and exciting events. Now that I am Miss Ohio, I can look back at the memories that I made with friends and know those connections are going to last a lifetime.

They also taught me how to walk in heels.

RS: What’s the best advice for someone learning to walk in heels?

Nies: The biggest was to roll your shoulders and relax afterwards. That helped me out, because honestly, I am a tomboy. I have six (younger) brothers and I’m always up for going out in the woods and doing things, riding horses. So when I put myself in heels for the first time, my skills were probably on par with my brothers.

RS: Do you have any sisters?

Nies: I have one older sister .. so we’re eight kids.

RS: Did your sister ever get involved in scholarship pageants?

Nies: She didn’t. I’m the first one out of my little family … I mean my big family .. to get involved in pageants and competitions. I’m the first of the grandkids to (compete) so it’s really been exciting.

RS: Each year at Miss Ohio, there are young women who have competed two or three times. You won it your first year? How did you explain your success?

Nies: I wish we could have given 22 crowns … to every woman who competed because they all bring something unique and wonderful to the table.

There is so much talent and energy and intelligence on that stage. I am grateful to just have competed alongside them. Even if you don’t bring back a crown, you bring back a really good experience.

I am just really happy that the program is open to people who want to want to compete for the first time. As Miss Ohio, I want to encourage young women across the state to get involved. Every county should have a local competition. That’s something a lot of young women can benefit from because of the scholarships and the professional skills you develop from competing.

Miss Ohio

RS: OK, so right before you go on stage for the Miss Ohio talent competition, they tell you that you can’t play the piano. What would your talent have been?

Nies: I wish I could say singing, but I unfortunately cannot sing. I think that I can sing, but everyone says that I sound like a little grandmother, so that may be a bad thing.

I think that my talent (would have been) the violin. I’ve also been playing the violin for upwards of 10 years. And it’s also another instrument that I enjoy. But if all else failed, I would just go and do a cartwheel on stage and maybe tell a joke.

RS: I know you studied abroad in France. How long were you there? What did you like most about it and what did you miss most about Ohio and the United States?

Nies: I had the opportunity to do a semester abroad in the south of France (January to May this year). Monte Carlo is glamorous and absolutely incredible. It was a very good experience and I got a good tan.

Americans are a very relaxed and fun brand of people. That would definitely be the thing I missed most. Being an American in Europe is different because you are exotic, but you also crave people from your homeland. So that’s why I’m happy to be here. As an American, you just have an immediate connection with anyone just because you share the same nationality.

However, when I was there, I think my favorite part was probably the view of the ocean that I got every day. That’s not something you can necessarily get in Ohio. So it was just very special to be able to see that every day.

RS: Do you speak French?

Nies: I do. I speak French fluently.

RS: What was the best food you ate there?

Nies: Monte Carlo is funny because it’s kind of wedged between France and Italy. One of my favorite cuisines is Italian cuisine. And so the best food that I had was probably a really good pizza.

RS: Had you ever been to Mansfield before the Miss Ohio?

Nies: I had not. I was not familiar with Mansfield, but now that I realize how important Miss Ohio is to Mansfield and how kind and supportive the people of Mansfield are to the program.

Mansfield stole my heart, to be honest. To everyone who has supported me, I just wanna give a big thank you, because it is meaningful. It is wonderful to go walk around the streets here and have someone say, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Miss Ohio.’

Everyone has been so wonderful and kind. It really makes me realize that’s what this program is about. It’s about bringing people together and creating opportunities.

RS: What have the last 72 hours been like?

Nies: It’s been kind of surreal, honestly, I’m on Cloud Nine. I still can’t believe it. It’s been really a time of celebration and I’ve been really just mapping out what I want to accomplish in this year as Miss Ohio, what I want to make of this year, and what I want to do with this title.

Obviously, I’m preparing for Miss America, which is in December. That’s definitely a focal point because I want represent Ohio well and hopefully bring back a crown.

But for the rest of the year, I’m here serving Ohio. And luckily I have the flexibility to take a year off of school to really just focus on this role and getting back to this great state. I’m really excited.

RS: I noticed you have a kind of “life-advice” podcast. How would you market your life podcast to older folks? I had three sons who are now all in their 30s. When they were 18 or 19, I don’t think I went to them for life advice.

Nies: It’s not really a life-advice podcast. It’s more of like little life lessons that I have learned.  The reason I made it is because we have (other) podcasts, but they’re just so long. I don’t have time to sit down for a 40-minute podcast that has like three big pieces of advice hidden between minute 15 and minute 27.

So I decided to put together a podcast that was short and informative, but also entertaining. I would market the podcast to you as a fun thing to add to your morning routine … as you’re sipping your coffee, as you’re going out for your morning walk .. something to listen to that uplifts your spirits.

And it maybe just reminds you of a lesson that you’ve already learned …  advice that you’ve already heard. As we go through life, we’re always reliant on all these external inputs because we live in a world where we have phones and technology and our jobs and all these things.

But if we have we have a moment to reconnect with ourselves …  we can really use that to fuel ourselves towards our passions and our goals.

RS: What haven’t I asked you about that didn’t already come out in all of the stories from Miss Ohio last week? What’s the one thing you still want people to know about you?

Nies: Honestly, I feel like most things have been covered. The only thing is, like I said, I am kind of a tomboy. I love to go out on hikes with my brothers and everything, but also I love animals.

And one of my passions is actually horseback riding. So for everyone who doesn’t know, Miss Ohio is an avid equestrian. And I’m excited to explore that again here in Ohio.

(Editor’s note: There is no truth to the rumor that City Editor Carl Hunnell was wearing socks older than the new Miss Ohio during the interview. He seldom wears socks.)

The Life section is supported by Brethren Care Village in Ashland.

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