Miss America 2012 has been crowned. Her name is Laura Kaeppeler and she’s from Wisconsin.
Kaeppeler, also Miss Wisconsin, took home the title this weekend at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for the 91st Miss America competition—The competition is the fourth-longest live U.S. TV event.
She donned the famous crown and held a bouquet of roses as mascara streamed down the brunette beauty’s face. She later told People Magazine, “In that moment I didn’t know what to think, It was all kind of a blur.”
Kaeppeler replaces the former Miss America, Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska, who was the youngest winner ever at 17 years old.
Kaeppeler will be the second Miss Wisconsin to be crowned Miss America, and it was no easy feat.
She was up against fierce competition—There were 53 woman competing for the title this year—that included Miss California Noelle Freeman, Miss Alabama Courtney Porter, Miss Arizona Jennifer Sedler, Miss New York Kaitlin Monte and Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson. But the 23-year-old nailed the competition (Miss Oklahoma came in second and Miss New York came in third) and took home a $50,000 scholarship and the coveted Miss America title. As part of the win, she will represent the Miss America pageant next year.
According to E!, she was judged by a panel that included Kris Jenner, Mark Ballas and Lara Spencer. She impressed them with her talent: singing opera and again when she waltzed out wearing a tiny white bikini for the swimsuit segment. Most impressive was her interview when she was asked, “Do you think Miss America should be free to declare her political affiliation?”
She answered confidently, “Miss America represents everyone and I think a message to the political candidates is that they represent everyone as well.” She continued, “In these economic times we need to be looking forward to what America needs and I think Miss America needs to represent all.”
According to reports, Kaeppeler says she will use her scholarship to go to law school. She also plans to continue mentoring children of incarcerated adults as she has dealt with that in the past. “There are many of you out there and I was one of them, but it doesn’t have to define you,” Kaeppeler told The Associated Press.
Check out the video.