HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Janelle Guerrero
Miss Hawaii USA's pageant experience might have made headlines because of a controversial question in the finals.
But Chelsea Hardin said she has only good things to say about the experience.
"It was amazing. It was so much fun," said Hardin, after returning to the islands on Thursday.
"I was up there for a week and a half. I got to know all the other 51 contestants and we had so much fun."
Hardin was named first runner-up in the pageant. In the finals, she was asked: "If the election were held tomorrow, who would you choose, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? And why would you choose one over the other?"
The question elicited a chorus of boos from the studio audience. There's also been backlash on social media, with many calling the question unfair.
To her credit, Hardin took the question in stride -- without divulging who she'd vote for.
And Hardin said she's not letting the question-that-went-viral to taint her pageant experience.
"My thing was that, this is a competition. I'm an athlete, so I look at it like a game," she said. " It's a fair game and they're looking for someone in that position where a Miss USA needs to be ready to answer whatever is thrown at her."
Her mother, Christine Mitchell, wasn't quite so forgiving.
"Well, in a pageant scene, maybe they could have couched it another way," she said. "There's a reason why they have private voting booths."
Hardin said now that she's back in Hawaii, she wants to continue her humanitarian work and make public appearances.
She also wants to pursue modeling and broadcasting.