CARSON CITY, Nev. — Elizabeth Muto was abandoned as a baby at the Reno airport 24 years ago. Now she’s Miss Nevada.
The Las Vegas woman beat 11 other women Saturday to become the first black Miss Nevada and to advance to the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., in September.
”I’ve been Nevada’s own since I was 10 days old,” Muto said. ”Since then, the people of Nevada have loved and supported me.”
Muto was abandoned atop a counter at Reno-Tahoe airport. A Reno couple adopted her.
Muto, a University of Nevada- Las Vegas graduate who majored in international business, was the winner of last year’s Miss Black USA pageant in Miami.
She was abandoned Jan. 17, 1980, atop a counter at Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Two pilots finally noticed her in an infant seat.
The Reno couple who adopted her think her biological mother flew to Reno to abandon the child before returning home to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Muto’s cause for the pageant was a group she formed called Heal Evaluate Learn and Progress, or HELP, which is designed to help children overcome adversity.
During her onstage interview, she was asked what she thought about same-sex marriage. She said she supports it, noting inter-racial marriages — such as her adoptive parents’ — were once unacceptable.
”If love were limited, then I wouldn’t have my family,” she said.
Muto still holds a track record at Reno’s Wooster High School. She’s fluent in Spanish and also speaks French.