Miss USA 2010: Natalie Morales thinks controversy will bring high ratings

natalie-morales.jpgNBC's "Today Show" anchor Natalie Morales will host the 2010 Miss USA pageant along with celebrity chef (and "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant) Curtis Stone. Before heading to Vegas, Morales took to the Today website to reflect on the controversial lingerie shoot that the contestants participated in.

"These girls are all of age and many of them are already professional models -- so they weren't asked to do anything they haven't already done before. The intent was to showcase their beauty in an artistic way with a world-renowned fashion photographer, Fadil Berisha," Morales says.

According to Morales, the goal of the photos, and of the entire Miss Universe Organization, is to make the beauty contestants feel empowered. "The Miss USA pageant also features a bikini competition, so that's not that much different than what we see in the black and white photos."

Familiar with the TV game, Morales says that she believes the controversy may have a silver lining. "I do think the controversy though -- which by the way led to millions of people Googling and searching for the photos -- will also translate to a very highly rated show," she says.

As for her co-host Stone, Morales says she wishes he was putting his culinary skills to use during the pageant. "He is just so cool and sweet and talented. He is a total pro. I wish he was cooking for us, but no time for that.  Co-hosting with him at Miss USA will be a fantastic time."

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Photo credit: NBC