Miss America 2012 winner crowned - see who won the competition!
Update 1/12/2013: The winner of Miss America 2013 can be found here.
Miss America 2012 was crowned during a live show from Las Vegas on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.
The winner beat out 53 other contestants for the crown, a $50,000 scholarship and a yearlong run as Miss America, touring the country to speak to groups and raise money for the Miss America Organization's official charity, the Children's Miracle Network. Find out who won Miss America 2012 (Spoiler Alert).
Miss Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler was crowned Miss America 2012 by Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, during the Miss America pageant on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 in Las Vegas.
The 23-year-old attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and did an operatic solo of the Italian song "Il Bacio" for the talent competition. Her platform was supporting and mentoring the children of incarcerated parents. Her father told the Associated Press that he served 18 months in federal prison for mail fraud.
For her interview question, Kaeppeler was asked whether beauty queens should discuss their political stance.
"Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well," Kaeppeler said. "And so in these economic times, we need to be looking forward to what America needs, and I think Miss America needs to represent all."
The third runner-up was Miss Arizona, Jennifer Sedler, the second runner-up was Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte and the first runner-up was Miss Oklahoma, Betty Thompson.
OnTheRedCarpet.com caught up with some of the contestants when they were gearing up for the competition and got a sneak peek at their talents. Check out all our interviews with the 2012 Miss America pageant contestants and photos of the 53 contestants, who hailed from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The contestants had to impress a star-studded panel of judges that included reality star Kris Jenner, Univision's "El Gordo y La Flaca" host Raul de Molina, executive producer of ABC's "The Bachelor" Mike Fleiss, "Dancing With the Stars" pro dancer Mark Ballas, actress Teri Polo of ABC's "Man Up," Chris Powell of "Extreme Makeover" and Lara Spencer of ABC's "Good Morning America."
Chris Harrison, host of ABC dating reality show "The Bachelor," and "Dancing With the Stars" co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet co-hosted the pageant for the second year in a row.
The first Miss America pageant took place in 1921. Winners of state contests are given scores based on their appearance in swimsuits and evening wear on stage and their answers given in prerecorded personal interviews and in response to a question asked during the live show.
The contest is not to be confused with Donald Trump's annual Miss USA pageant, which also selects a winner from among state beauty queens. The Miss America pageant features an additional talent portion, during which contestants are judged on acts they perform, such as singing, dancing and juggling routines.
Pageant officials announced the winners of preliminary competitions, including Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape, Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson and Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler for the talent portion, and Miss New York Kaitlin Monte, Miss Texas Kendall Morris and Miss Utah Danica Olsen for the swimsuit competition. Check out photos from the pageant's swimsuit competition.
"Miss America must be talented, intelligent and well-spoken, a leader, have a commitment to her community, be contemporary in her style and fashion - a relatable and individual 'it girl' who can connect with today's modern woman, as well as being physically fit," organizers said in a statement.
Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan, 17, was crowned the 2011 Miss America, which earned her a $50,000 scholarship and a yearlong run as Miss America. Scanlan was the youngest winner of the Miss America crown since the pageant's first competition in 1921, when the District of Columbia's Margaret Gorman won at age 15.