Miss Oklahoma Lauren Nelson models her swimsuit during the Miss America pageant at the Aladdin Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 29, 2007. Nelson was named Miss America 2007. [Reuters]
Lauren Nelson, an aspiring Broadway star, was crowned Miss America on Monday night, the second year in a row that a Miss Oklahoma has won the crown. (Agencies)
Nelson, 20, of Lawton, Okla., is a student at the University of Central Oklahoma and wants to get her master's degree in musical theater.
Shilah Phillips, the first black Miss Texas, was first runner-up, and Miss Georgia, Amanda Kozak, was second runner-up. Viewers voted Miss Alabama, Melinda Toole, as Miss Congeniality.
Nelson was crowned by last year's winner, Jennifer Berry. Nelson, a blonde who told judges she wishes she was taller, sang "You'll Be In My Heart" in the talent competition and plans to promote protecting children online during her yearlong reign as Miss America.
She gets a $50,000 scholarship with the crown and stands to make thousands more in appearance fees.
The pageant tossed in a few reality-TV twists on the way toward selecting its ideal woman in a new time slot on the Las Vegas Strip.
After a long reign as a cultural icon, Miss America's ratings have plummeted, and sexier reality shows have eclipsed her girl-next-door appeal. The addition of pop quizzes and casual-wear contests couldn't save the pageant from losing its network TV contract in 2004.
MTV-Networks' CMT picked it up i