Miss Nebraska, Teresa Scanlan, was crowned 2011 Miss America on Saturday, making her the youngest ever winner at 17 on the 90th anniversary of the pageant and also the first Miss Nebraska to win the coveted title. Margaret Gorman of the District of Columbia, the pageant’s first winner, won at the age of 16 in 1921.
Scanlan exuded confidence early on in the program. She predicted that she’d win the top prize in a short pre-taped video that was shown after she was announced as the second semi-finalist.
“I’m going to be the next Miss America because I know I can make a difference and change lives and the next Miss America needs to be able to inspire and restore hope,” Scanlan said.
Producers invited past winners to participate in the show’s 90th contest. An impressive 43 former Miss Americas showed up, including Lee Meriwether (1955) and Phyllis George (1971). George, celebrating the 30th anniversary of her win, presented roses to Scanlan after she was named as the winner.
Songs ‘Dynamite’ by Taio Cruz, ‘Just the Way You Are’ by Bruno Mars and a pulsating remix of ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ were used during the program. The show kept the tradition of playing ‘There She Is, Miss America’ after Scanlan was crowned the winner.
Hosts Brooke Burke (‘DWTS’) and Chris Harrison (‘The Bachelor’), are no strangers to live TV, keeping the action moving. Harrison is used to being around beautiful women, though these ladies were chasing a crown — not a husband.
The show interviewed past winners during the broadcast. While this was a great idea, the questions all revolved around shoes to accommodate Designer Shoes Warehouse, a sponsor of the program, which was actually titled ‘DSW Presents the Miss America Pageant.
Miss Nebraska claims her focus during her run as Miss America will be on eating disorders. She has been participating in pageants since she turned 13 and has won a host of beauty contests. Her hobbies include making clothes out of duct tape.
This year’s panel of seven judges included Joy Behar (‘The View’), Debbye Turner Bell (Miss America 1990 and now a veterinary doctor), Marc Cherry (the creator of Desperate Housewives), Tony Dovolani (‘Dancing with the Stars’), actress Marilu Henner, Taryn Rose (a shoe designer and orthopedic surgeon) and country singer Mark Wills.
Two contestants were voted into the Top 15 by their fellow contestants, namely Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent and Miss Oregon Stephenie Steers. The pageant was held at the Planet Hollywood casino-resort in Las Vegas.
Scanlan’s victory came on the back of her strong performance in the talent round where she, dressed in a white evening gown, played “White Water Chopped Sticks” on piano. She was the only contestant who didn’t dance or sing, which was refreshing.
When she was asked about WikiLeaks and balancing the public’s right to know versus national security, she told the audience that when it comes to Wikileaks, security should come before public access to government information. That answer earned her high marks, taking into consideration that she had to answer the question in 10 seconds.
“You know when it came to that situation it was actually based on espionage, and when it comes to the security of our nation, we have to focus on security first and then people’s right to know, because it’s so important that everybody who’s in our borders is safe and so we can’t let things like that happen and they must be handled properly,” she said.
A recent graduate of Scottsbluff High School from the western Nebraska town of Gering, Scanlan has earned a $50,000 scholarship sponsored by Artistry exclusively by Amway and is planning to study American politics at Patrick Henry College in Virginia after her reign as Miss America. She also hopes to attend law school, become a judge and eventually a politician, according to her pageant biography. She was homeschooled till junior year of high school and is the middle one of seven children.
Miss Arkansas, Alyse Eady, won $25,000, as the first runner-up, while Miss Hawaii, Jalee Fuselier, won $20,000 for third place.
Congratulations to Teresa on becoming the new Miss America!