Miss N.C. Upgrades Her Tiara to Miss USA
By PopEater Staff Posted Apr 20th 2009 06:47AM
Miss N.C. Upgrades Her Tiara to Miss USA
PopEater / Wire Services
It was a royal night for North Carolina and Kristen Dalton, who walked away with the tiara and the honors of being crowned the new Miss USA.
Dalton squeaked past Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean, to take the top prize. The 21-year-old who has her sights set on being a motivational speaker now gets a year's use of a New York apartment, a public relations team, a two-year scholarship at the New YorkFilm Academy and an undisclosed salary thanks to her win.Skip over this content
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Contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbiacompeted in the pageant, aired live on NBC. Contestants were judgedby their performance in swimsuit and evening gown modeling contestsand their responses to a question asked onstage; unlike the rivalMiss America pageant, Miss USA contestants do not perform a talent.
The top 15 contestants worked the stage in white string bikinisdesigned by pop star Jessica Simpson's swimwear line. Rocker KevinRudolf performed his song "Let it Rock," followed by TheVeronicas, who performed their single "Untouched" as the top 10beauties showed off their choice of glittering evening gowns.
She also will go to the Bahamas in August to compete in the MissUniverse pageant, where American beauties haven't been lucky inrecent years. Both Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart and herpredecessor, Rachel Smith, wiped out on stage during the eveninggown competition, becoming accidental YouTube stars.
Asked about the tumble during the show on Sunday, Stewart saidit was a lesson in bouncing back from defeat.
"I think it was a true test of my character," said the27-year-old Texan, who worked to raise awareness for breast canceras she traveled the globe promoting the beauty contest.
If there is a YouTube moment from Sunday's show, it may be MissCalifornia's answer to a question about legalizing same-sexmarriage. The tall blonde stumbled some before giving an answerthat appeared to please the pageant audience.
"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage oropposite marriage," Prejean said. "And you know what, I think inmy country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriageshould be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody outthere, but that's how I was raised."
Some in the audience cheered, others booed.Skip over this content
The pageant had enjoyed a scandal-free year until earlier thismonth, when Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza was skewered for ablog posting from a trip to Guantanamo Bay. The entry describedhaving "aloooot of fun" at a base that houses the notoriousmilitary prison; it was later deleted from the pageant's Web site.
The contest, which is owned by NBC and reality TV mogul DonaldTrump, was hosted by "Access Hollywood" co-anchor Billy Bush andNadine Velazquez of the NBC sitcom "My Name is Earl." This year'sjudges included "Saturday Night Live" cast member Kenan Thompson,"Dancing with the Stars" winner Kelly Monaco and gossip bloggerPerez Hilton.
Miss Wyoming USA Cynthia Pate, of Casper, Wyo., was voted MissCongeniality by her fellow contestants. Jessi Pierson, of Milton,W.Va., was voted Miss Photogenic through an online contest on theMiss Universe Web site.
Organizers said Sunday's show kicks off "Green Week" at NBC.As part of the environmental awareness campaign, the Miss USA crownwas designed by a jeweler that specializes in conflict-free andeco-friendly jewels. The crown from Diamond Nexus Labs of Franklin,Wis., is worth $202,000.
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