Sunday, April 19, 2009

Miss North Carolina USA crowned Miss USA 2009

Miss North Carolina USA Kristen Dalton has been crowned Miss USA 2009.

The 21-year-old aspiring motivational speaker from Wilmington edged out first runner-up Miss California USA Carrie Prejean, of San Diego, and second runner-up Miss Arizona USA Alicia-Monique Blanco, of Phoenix.

Contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia competed in the pageant, aired live on NBC. Contestants were judged by their performance in swimsuit and evening gown modeling contests and their responses to a question asked onstage; unlike the rival Miss America pageant, Miss USA contestants do not perform a talent.

The top 15 contestants worked the stage in white string bikinis designed by pop star Jessica Simpson's swimwear line. Rocker Kevin Rudolf performed his song "Let it Rock," followed by The Veronicas, who performed their single "Untouched" as the top 10 beauties showed off their choice of glittering evening gowns.

Dalton's title comes with a year's use of a New York apartment, a public relations team, a two-year scholarship at the New York Film Academy and an undisclosed salary.

She also will go to the Bahamas in August to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, where American beauties haven't been lucky in recent years. Both Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart and her predecessor, Rachel Smith, wiped out on stage during the evening gown competition, becoming accidental YouTube stars.

The Miss USA crown was designed by a jeweler that specializes in conflict-free and eco-friendly jewels. The crown from Diamond Nexus Labs of Franklin, Wis., is worth $202,000.

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