Sunday, January 15, 2012

Miss America 2012 is Miss Wisconsin, LAURA KAEPPELER!!!!

Whoooooooooo Hooooooooooooo!!!! Time for a wrap-up summary of Miss America 2012 and a few final thoughts as this year's event closes one chapter for Teresa Scanlan and opens a new chapter for Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler!

Here's what we know! From Kenosha, WI, Laura is a graduate of Carthage University - a Vocal Performance Major. Her platform is "Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents" as her father was convicted of a white collar crime when she was younger. Now, she wants to go to law school and become a family law attorney representing and defending children of incarcerated parents.

During the Press Conference, Laura shared about their family's decision to change her platform issue - knowing that they needed to all be 'on board' with the decision (she finished as the 2nd Runner Up in Wisconsin in 2010 with a platform of promoting the arts in schools). She called her Dad her 'best friend' and that the two of them grew deeper in their faith during the journey.

She's elegant, classy and articulate. Earlier in the week, I posted that she has a 'calm, inner strength' about her and it shows. Her experience will allow her to be such a mentor to the 2 million children in the US who have a parent in prison. I don't yet know if Laura has a connection to one of my favorite prison ministries, Angel Tree/Prison Fellowship
but if so, I'm even more impressed. I've actually been involved in this ministry for years and thoroughly believe in its redemptive, healing message of reconciliation and hope. Sounds like there may be a connection, but no confirmation yet.

Her vocal abilities should open doors for her to sing all across the country (Star Spangled Banner and/or God Bless America at sporting events and other appearances), her age allows her to sign all of her own paperwork (Teresa's parents actually had to approve her contracts prior to her turning 18), and I can see her being a Queen who comes back and is a part of Miss America for years and years to come.

Beyond the Queen herself, here are a few other random thoughts about the show... in random order...

1. I ended up with 11 of the Top 15, 7 out of the Top 10, and 4 out of the Top 5 (see previous post). Not a bad year - even though I didn't originally pick the winner.

2. I wanted to 'go on record' that I would be more than happy to see Wisconsin as the Winner (again, see previous post)... but frankly, I just didn't think the judges would crown her. Not because she didn't deserve it (she most certainly does deserve it) - but because of the 'bold, new direction' everyone kept talking about. Laura is EXACTLY the kind of Queen who we will love to follow... She fits in with the Miss America sisterhood beautifully --- I just kept believing Miss America wanted something different this year (and obviously, they did not).

3. Next year, I'm going out for more preliminaries. I usually catch the Thursday night prelims and then the final show, but that leaves me unable to accurately assess everyone. Had I heard New York and Wisconsin sing, I think I would've recognized Laura's Talent was stronger than New York's and picked accordingly. Gotta see prelims to get a good feel for who really has 'it' vs. who looks like they have 'it' in the pictures!

4. Honestly, I hated the opening number. I appreciate what they were trying to do, but I wasn't impressed. I think it played a role in the audience being a bit more 'laid back' and not as 'excited' to begin the live broadcast. Additionally, natural lighting isn't that great for girls who are used to 'stage makeup' (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). My vote for 2013 is to go back to a regular opening number... glamorous, spunky and fun!

5. Group #3 (Sigma) was the clear winner in the judges books... Group #1 (Mu) only had 2 girls make the Top 15!!! ONLY 2!!! Group #3 had 7 girls advance... That RARELY happens. Usually it's much more balanced.

Otherwise, once again, I'm happy with the judges decision. Laura may not be the 'quirky' girl, or the 'bold' girl, or the 'girl with a colorful personality', but I thoroughly believe she is the right girl. I look forward to becoming more familiar with her as the year goes on...

Speaking of - she'll be on the TV circuit tomorrow morning (Good Morning America, of course) and on Fox and Friends with Gretchen Carlson on Tuesday. My DVR is already set! :)

Special Thanks to those "New Junkies" who joined me this year in my Miss America obsession... it's a pleasure to know I'm not alone! (lol) :) We're already thinking of ways to expand Miss America Junkies - and who knows where we may be by the time we crown Miss America 2013??? One thing I can guarantee... it's bound to be a fun ride!

Until next year... when we all gather around again to play... I'll be humming that famous tune in my head and practicing my pageant wave...

Hugs and Kisses to all my new Junkie Friends!!! Junkies Unite!!! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thursday Results and PICKS FOR THE WINNER!!!

Junkies - oh Junkies. How I have let you down... I apologize for not getting a post up yesterday. Just one of those days when one thing turned into another and it didn't happen. My Bad.

In summary, what I would've said yesterday - is that I have redeemed myself and went 2 for 2 on Thursday night preliminary picks, allowing me to finish 4/6 this year! All is not lost after all!!! Here are the results!

Swimsuit = New York.
If my theory holds true about final night swimsuit winners (see previous post), you'll see New York finish in the Top 5 tonight. Frankly, she looked good enough to win it all Thursday night!

Talent = Hawaii.
This means 3 girls who were first in their preliminary group all won Preliminary awards this year (Hawaii, Wisconsin, Utah). I've never seen that happen before - but I can't say for sure that this is THE FIRST time. The routine itself was pretty entertaining... jumping to 'Hawaii 5.0' in the background. Certainly impressive - I'm guessing you'll get to see it for yourself on TV tonight.

That leads us to today... and my additional thoughts before the show tonight...

1. You won't see a full-on opening number. Yes, there's some dancing and such, but the girls will all be introducing themselves from various locations around Vegas including the Hoover Dam as well as The Strip. I kinda miss it, personally.

2. These judges are torn (in my humble opinion). By this point, you can usually see someone emerging as the front runner, but I really think it's more 'open' this year and several girls have a viable shot at the crown. I think half the judges want someone's who's genuine, relate-able, touchable, and real (Teri Polo, Lara Spencer, Chris Powell). I think the other half want someone who's Hot, who's 'got it' and is a little more Holly-wood, camera ready, grab-your-attention-when-you-walk-in-the-door gorgeous and aren't really sure how talented she needs to be (Kris Jenner, Mike Fleiss, Mark Ballas. And for the record, I have no idea who Raul Molina wants). Let's be honest - these 2 ideals are REALLY difficult to find in the same person. I'm not sure which of these theories is going to win out.

3. Since 2005, someone who won a preliminary has won Miss America. 2005 was the last queen crowned in Atlantic City, Deidra Downs. If you remember, that was the year they competed in every category and at the very end had a Talent-Off. In theory, the girl with the best Talent would win. In reality, 2 very poor Talents were shown on National TV and they never tried it again. Normally, I'd be VERY SURPRISED if we crown a non-preliminary winner tonight, but given this group of judges (again, who have no direction from a former Miss America within their group), nothing's impossible.

Ok - here's how I see it.

Favorites to Win = New York, Wisconsin.

Potential Dark Horses out of Nowhere = Missouri, Washington, California

Girls who should still do well = Oklahoma, South Carolina, Hawaii, Arizona, Texas.

And there you have my Top 10. I'm not saying the first 5 names will all be in the Top 5... I think it's closer to NY, WI, OK, CA, SC... but we shall see.

Finally, I see NY and Wisconsin as the favorites for the crown - and the epitome of these 'deuling beliefs'. WI beat NY on Talent night, but it's entirely possible NY beat WI in interview. I see WI as the 'relate-able, genuine girl' and NY as the 'Hot Mama'. Conventional wisdom tells me NY will win it this year (given Claire Buffie's success paving the way in 2011... see Brittany Jeffers in 2010 paving the way for Teresa in 2011...see Hanna Kiefer in 2008 paving the way for Caressa Cameron in 2010)... but let me go on record that I would more than happy to have Wisconsin named the winner as well.

As always, we shall see!!! Pictures are on the Miss America Junkies Facebook page! Promise to update you with final thoughts after a new queen is crowned TONIGHT!!!

In the meantime, tell me who's in your Top 10! I'd love to compare notes!!! :)

Good Luck Everyone!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wed Results and Picks for Thursday!!! :)

Whoooooooo Hooooooo for Preliminary Night #2!!!! Even though results weren’t posted until nearly 10:20pm Pacific (that’s nearly 1:30 for you East Coasters!), we do have ourselves another round of winners from last night! Let’s get right to it!

Swimsuit = TEXAS!

A correct pick! Trust me – I saw Texas walk during the fashion show and thought, ‘WOW’. She could be ugly and still have a shot at winning Swimsuit – her walk is THAT GOOD! Fortunately, she’s not even close to ugly – she’s, as judge Mike Fleiss would say, “HOT”!!! Texas is also the first former MAOTeen to win a Preliminary this year (Hawaii won swimsuit last year as a former MAOTeen) and she deserved it! Gorgeous!

Talent = OKLAHOMA!
Another correct pick – Bringing me back to 50/50 overall (Whew! Trying to redeem myself!) Oklahoma is one of 4 Irish step dancers this year – and if one of them was going to win a prelim, it outta be her! She’s a Championship Step Dancer and very ‘midwest’. She has that ‘girl next door’ appeal with a touch of glam. We like her a lot!

Now – Tonight’s picks are TOUGH!!! I’m afraid points might split all over the place and the girl who finished 2nd on everyone’s ballots might be the Talent winner… Here’s where I’m going…

Swimsuit = New York, Virginia, Arizona, Tennessee
I have a theory on Final Night swimsuit winners. The other 2 nights, the judges are looking at who is THE BEST in swimsuit. However, on the final night, the judges usually give the swimsuit award to a girl who looks great in a swimsuit AND also scored really high interview. It’s like a secret way of telling the girl, ‘We know you’re here… and we really like you’. If New York wins – she’s a Top 5’er in my book for sure.

Talent = Missouri, Georgia, Washington, Hawaii

DC might surprise me – but I’m going with the thought that this is only DC’s third pageant of her life and it’s a pretty big stage to be singing all alone on it. Look at me with the diversity of this Talent Pick! MO = Vocals, GA = Ballet, WA = Fiddle, Hi = Jump Rope! Like I said, points could split all over the place! Oh – and the same theory holds true with final Talent prelims… Teresa Scanlan won on Talent on her final night last year… If Missouri wins, watch out. I gotta feeling about that girl…

Otherwise, the Miss America Junkies contingency arrived in Vegas today!!! Super excited to have 8 of us traveling together this weekend!!! We’ll all see tonight’s preliminaries LIVE and then put our final thoughts together on our winners.

So – here’s your assignment! Make your picks for tonight, but be thinking about your Top 15! I’ll post my list before the finals begin on Saturday, but you’re welcome to post them at any time! It’s getting down to the wire… we’re only days away from knowing who will be our new Miss America 2012!!! BRING IT ON!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Results from Night One and Preliminary Night Two Picks!!!

Whoooooooooooooo Hoooooooooooooooooo! First night of Prelims down and 2 more nights to go!!! What a rush to finally begin the on-stage competition for Miss America 2012!!!

Couple of items to note before we get to results and tonight's picks...

1. FINALLY - WE HAVE COLORFUL SWIMSUITS! It seems like it's been a thousand years since Miss America had colorful swimsuits - and we're grateful for Komplique's contributions to this year's contestants. Yay!

2. Joseph Ribkoff opening number gowns! Express may be a 'new' clothing sponsor, but Joseph Ribkoff still has an enduring style about him and we love his clothing line! The silver gowns look great on stage for the opening number!

3. If you're not on Twitter yet, go sign up right now. If you're on Twitter but not yet following @MrDelaware2008, go add him right now. I've yet to uncover exactly who Chris Saltalamacchio is, but he's tweeting live from the prelims and has a great eye. Lots of pageant girls already following him... don't get left out of the loop!

Ok - in regards to the winners last night, here's where we stand!

Swimsuit Winner = UTAH!
WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW! This girl was the FIRST contestant to show her swimsuit last night and the judges didn't like anything else better. In fact, several people are saying Utah had the best swimsuit they'd EVER SEEN on the Vegas stage!!! Katie Stam (Miss America 2009) said she didn't just have a 6 pack, she has an 8 pack!!! I didn't pick Utah last night (even though she won swimsuit at her state) because in the past, Utah tends to have very conservative girls from religious backgrounds and they don't always live up to the 'Swimsuit' portion of show. Shame on me for letting my past impressions dictate my future choices. This is a miss for me.

Talent Winner = WISCONSIN!
Another girl I considered, but didn't choose because she was also the very first person to perform her Talent last night, and again - the judges didn't like anything else better than her. Wisconsin ALWAYS produces quality Talent and I should've known better. Plus, I really like WI this year (not just for the Packers)... her father was incarcerated for a white collar crime when she was young and she has a true 'calmness' and inner-strength about her. Kinda like, "I've been through junk in my life and trust me, this is nothing to get worked up about." Another miss for me.

Which brings us to tonight's picks! You do realize, I have to go 4/4 with tonight's winners and tomorrow's winners in order to finish 4/6... geez... guess the pressure of a bigger audience is starting to get to me.

But without further adieu, here's my picks for tonight!

Swimsuit = Missouri, Washington, Georgia, Texas Don't get me wrong - I really like Arkansas, Hawaii and Florida, but I think my picks have a better shot at winning this award tonight.

Talent = Illinois, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Iowa Two dancers, and two vocalists tonight... Iowa is fresh and has a LOVELY voice, Oklahoma is a championship Irish Step Dancer, Illinois had a beautiful video and SC has a musical theater background.

For the record, I feel much more confident about these picks than I did last night... And because both girls were first in their group to perform, I'm no longer concerned about placement. As Claire Buffe, Miss New York 2011 said in her Twitter Feed, "I love when short girls win swimsuit, controversial girls win interview & contestant #1 wins talent. Never doubt your placement-or yourself."

Oh - and here's a couple of "Didya Know's"... 1. Teri Polo's mom was a Miss Dover and finished as a runner up to Miss America? 2. "Jersey Knit" is the new 'liquid beading on evening gowns this year (super tough to wear unless you're in GREAT shape... and 3. Quality of Life finalists were judged by 3 former Miss Americas and the winners will be announced Friday (so THAT'S what the former Queens are judging this year). :)

Who are your picks for tonight's preliminaries???

Monday, January 9, 2012

Prelminary Night Number One!!!

HERE WE GO!!!! IT'S FINALLY HERE!!!! We're SO EXCITED because TUESDAY means we actually get to see On-Stage Competitions now!!!

Here's where the fun of this blog began... Several years ago, i started guessing who would win the preliminaries each night and much like a stupid-human-trick, I could 'wow' my friends and family with my predictions. This year is no different, just more people holding me accountable! :)

Here are the rules:
1. Two awards are given each night... one for Swimsuit and one for Talent (no on-stage awards for Evening Gown or On-Stage Question). Three nights of prelims means 6 awards total.
2. I'll select 4 states out of the 17-18 girls who could possibly win. I usually give commentary as well (but of course).
3. The last few years, I've pushed myself to see if I can finish 5/6, but it hasn't happened. A good year is 4/6 and I'm completely annoyed when I finish 3/6. I mean, nearly anyone can do that! :)

Before we begin, I need a small soapbox moment.

I'm really, really surprised to see SO MANY DANCERS at Miss America this year! Out of 53 girls (50 states plus Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and DC), there are 25 dancers! Six are ballet dancers, 4 are Irish Step Dancers, 2 Tap Dancers, 1 Jump Roper (I know, not really dance, but where else are you gonna classify the girl?) and the rest are 'lyrical dancers' or 'jazz dancers' or 'theater dancers' or 'contemporary dancers'. For the record, I'm VERY GLAD Mark Ballas is judging for this reason... I think he'll be able to separate the wannabies from the girls with actual dancing Talent. But honestly, unless your dance looks like this one from Miss Michigan 2011 Katie LaRoche, I'm not super confident in your ability to become Miss America.

Katie won the Preliminary Talent Award last year and in my humble opinion, this is probably the best non-ballet dance I've ever seen. Yes, there are LOTS AND LOTS of talented dancers in the Miss America system... I hope we see more of them. I credit Sierra Minott (Florida 2008 and 4th runner up) with bringing 'non-ballet dance' back as a viable Talent for Miss America contestants. Prior to that, I could tell you numerous girls who 'danced' for their Talent because they had nothing else they could do (and plenty of them finished in the Top 5 because they were fabulous in interview, swimsuit and evening gown, but had little to no Talent... Molly Hazlett TX, Jennifer Dupont LA, Amanda Kozak GA)!

We need a Miss America with true Talent (dancing or otherwise). To have a Miss America without any Talent means we've given up on one of the biggest distinctions between Miss USA and Miss America. Talent Counts.

Whew! Glad that's over. Now, on to tonight's picks!

Swimsuit = Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma
LOTS of girls won Preliminary Swimsuit at their own state competitions this summer... I could easily miss this one... guess we'll see...

Talent = Tennessee, New York, Virginia, Alabama
I'm going with 3 vocalists and a Tap Dancer... Indiana may surprise me as well... hmmm...

Once we hear the results, we'll update the results on our Facebook page first, then tomorrow we'll give you the results of Tuesday's winners along with our picks for Wednesday's winners.

You're welcome to give us your picks too! Who do you think will win Swimsuit and Talent tonight?

2012 Judges and Facial Hair

There are a few things in life that continue to make sense outside of the doors of a schoolhouse/college. Allow us to elaborate...

1. I was a starter on my High School varsity basketball team for 4 years. No, I wasn't the female LeBron James, I just played as hard and as smart as I could (and I was much more successful in some games than others). Early on, I learned that a 'foul' is only a 'foul' when the referee calls it a 'foul'. This is different than trying to 'get away with' a foul... I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the little ways that some refs let you play, and some refs will call a foul before you even make the move. The trick is, you need to learn which ref you're playing for and if your actions are going to bring you into foul trouble or allow you to have an amazing game.

2. Shortly after I began college, I discovered something similar. In order to get a good grade (besides normal studying), you needed to learn how your professor wanted you to respond in class, and then respond accordingly. Some professors could care less if you were in class, they only wanted to see you perform well on tests. Other professors rewarded you for never missing class because they saw how much blood sweat and tears you put into conjugating Spanish verbs even when you failed the tests miserably (ouch, that was a little close to home, but true). The trick is, you had to learn what was expected of you by that individual professor in order to get a good grade.

It's the same with judges and pageants.

Put 5 judges on a panel and they'll select 1 girl as the winner. Bring on 5 different judges and honestly, you may not get the same winner. Pageants are subjective - the beauty, strength and personality of the contestant is in the eye of the beholder... and 5 people can only behold so much when the competition is steep.

That's why we never make any predictions about who's going to win the crown until we know the judges. And this year, Miss America has picked the following people with the unenviable task of choosing Miss America 2012 (and if you're already familiar with this year's judges feel free to skip to my 'Obvious Thoughts' section below).

From the Field of Performing Arts- Mark Ballas – A lifelong dancer and musician, Emmy nominated Mark has wowed viewers on ABC’s, Dancing with the Stars, for nine seasons, winning two mirror ball trophies. Born in Houston to a family of international dance stars, Mark moved to London as a child; he attended the world-renowned Italia Conti Performing Arts School. Here, he not only danced, but also was required to sing, act and play an instrument. By age 12 he was writing and performing his own music, playing guitar, drums and bass. When Mark isn’t performing, he is passionate about speaking to school-age kids about acceptance, sparked by his Uncle David’s suicide nine years ago. He helped form The Ballas Foundation and is committed to removing the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide.

From the Field of Communications – Raúl de Molina - Raúl is the multiple Emmy award-winning co-host of Univision networks #1 rated entertainment news show El Gordo y La Flaca, which has more viewers on its time slot than ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX combined. He is the author of the bestselling La Dieta del Gordo and one of the original contributors to the Huffington Post’s Food and Latino Voices sections. In 2008, he was chosen by People en Espanol as one of the most influential Hispanics in the United States.

From the Field of Star Power – Mike Fleiss - Mike is founder of Next Entertainment and executive producer of The Bachelor franchise, which also includes The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad, and will serve as executive producer of H8R. His credits include High School Reunion, The Cougar, There Goes the Neighborhood, Hitched or Ditched, More to Love and Leave it to Lamas. With a multi-year deal with Warner Horizon Television to create original series for network, syndication and cable, Mike is a leading producer of reality programming. He has created over three dozen series and produced over 300 hours of primetime television.

From the Field of Beauty – Kris Jenner - Kris is the Star, Creator, and Executive Producer, along with Ryan Seacrest, of Keeping Up With the Kardashians for E!. The show wrapped its sixth season, and enjoys the title of, “Highest Rated and Most Watched Telecast ever on E!.” Kris also produces Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami, Kourtney and Kim Take New York and Khloé and Lamar. In her new memoir, Kris Jenner And All Things Kardashian, she writes about her relationships, her kids, and her intimate connection to the O.J. Simpson trial. She is the president of her own production company, Jenner Communications, and for the last 20 years she has been manager for her husband and Olympic Gold medalist, Bruce Jenner’s motivational speaking tour. Kris also manages the careers of her six children.

From the Field of Talent – Teri Polo - Teri currently stars as Theresa Hayden Keen on ABC’s Man Up! She is best known for her role as Pam in the Meet the Parents theatricals. Originally from Dover, DE, Teri began her performing career as a dancer. By age 13 she was attending New York’s School of Ballet. The summer before her senior year, she was signed to a modeling contract, which led to a role on Loving.

From the Field of Fitness – Chris Powell - Chris is the host and transformation specialist on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, which debuted last May as the number one show on TV. Chris exploded onto the fitness scene with his unorthodox approach, becoming a pioneer for a new hybrid of fitness professionals. He has captured national attention with the largest and fastest natural weight loss ever documented, transforming the life of David Smith who lost 401 lbs in 26 months. It was Chris’s unyielding dedication to another that captured the heart of America as he shared his story on such national shows as The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, The View, as well as a one-hour documentary for TLC.

From the Field of News and Entertainment - Lara Spencer – Lara was named lifestyle anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America in March 2011. She was previously the show’s National Correspondent from 1999 to 2004. In 2004, she began hosting The Insider. During her seven seasons there, she interviewed the industry’s biggest stars and traveled the world for exclusive interviews. She also hosted three primetime TV specials for CBS. She is an advocate for Greenwich Adult Day Care in Connecticut, which helps seniors living with Alzheimer’s. She is married and a mother to a son and a daughter, Duff and Kate.

So - what are our thoughts about this panel and how it relates to the new winner?

Obvious Thought #1. ABC better get good ratings this year since they had such a significant influence in the judging selection. If they don't, it's THEIR fault, not Miss America's fault.

Obvious Thought #2. Reality TV Rules. If you don't have 'camera charisma' you're not going to impress these judges this year. And yes, Miss South Carolina has an advantage because her story went so public so quickly about losing 100+ pounds and winning the title. That's a 'reality story' with judges who know a thing or 2 about losing weight.

Obvious Thought #3. Ummm... where's the former Miss America who usually sits on the panel? Or how about at least someone who's been in pageants before? Wow.

Not So Obvious Thought #1. NO VOCALIST JUDGE this year, but instead, we have 2 judges who understand dance (Mark and Teri). Perhaps that's in response to the 25 dancers we have at Miss America this year?

Not So Obvious Thought #2. Kris Jenner. Is this just a response to Joy Behar being selected as a judge last year in 2011? Which was a response to Rush Limbaugh being selected as a judge in 2010? Which was a response to Chris Matthews being selected as a judge in 2007? I guess I don't understand what she brings to the table that Mike Fleiss doesn't already bring. Except eyebrows. As a friend of mine recently said, "Because of Kris Jenner, don't you think we'll crown a Miss America this year with Eyebrows?" (lol - can't make this stuff up!).

So, besides Eyebrows, what do you think this panel brings to the table and who is it likely to benefit in 2012???

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is this Heaven? No, it's the National Sweetcorn Festival...

In addition to "Pageant Math" it's also a good idea to remember who has National Pageant Experience (meaning, they've competed as a 'Miss State' at some time during their life). When you've competed in a National Pageant you have a better understanding of what it takes to win ('cause you've been there, done that, brought home the t-shirt). Several girls fit this category in 2012 including:

All MAO Teen Winners Posted Yesterday = Idaho, Georgia, Kentucky, Montana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Texas, Nebraska and North Dakota. These gals know Miss America is a marathon, not a sprint.

"Other" National Experience = California and Kansas as well as North Dakota (all mentioned in earlier blog post under Veterans).

Miss Sweetheart Girls = If you're not familiar with Miss Sweetheart, this is a pageant held during a Sweetcorn Festival over Labor Day weekend in Hoopeston, Illinois. All the 1st Runner Ups from across the country are invited to compete for the title of Miss Sweetheart. In our words, it's a pageant to see who is the 'winner of all the losers' and has the potential to win their state the following year.

(Photo is of Chandler Lawson, Miss Sweetheart Tennessee in a cornfield while participating in Miss Sweetheart 2011)

We have TONS of former Sweetheart contestants this year, including Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In addition, Nebraska, Idaho, Kentucky and Minnesota were all MAO Teens AND Miss Sweetheart contestants, giving them 2 National Pageants under their belts!

I find it super interesting that so many girls who have been to Miss Sweetheart are competing this year for Miss America. Here's why... Miss Sweetheart hasn't crowned a 'winner' since Tara Holland in 1995 (Tara won Miss Sweetheart before going on to win Miss America in 1996). In fact, only 1 Miss Sweetheart winner even went back to win her own state since 2005 (that means 5 other girls who were named Miss Sweetheart, didn't even win their own state the next year). Makes me wonder if the judging at Miss Sweetheart isn't as strong as it used to be? Or, could it be, that the MAO Teen program (which crowned its first winner in 2005) is now the new way for girls to gain National Pageant experience and Sweetheart doesn't matter the way it used to?

Hmmmmmmm... interesting food for thought...

What role do you think National Experience plays on the Big Stage?

Pageant Math

Some people think all pageant girls grow up a la "Toddlers and Tiaras"... practicing their sugar-sweet smiles and perfect poses from the day they were old enough to walk. But it doesn't take decades of pageant experience in order to see yourself on stage at Miss America (although sometimes it works out that way, but rarely). Essentially, the pageant world has it's own 'math' that we use to determine who's likely to win. It has very little to do with how old you are, instead we're more interested in how old you are in 'pageant years'. Let me explain.

There are usually 3 groups of 'pageant girls' at Miss America... and here they are (in no particular order - haha)...

Group #1 = Purists. These are girls who are loyal to Miss America and her crown only, refusing to partake in other sub-standard pageants. It may take her 5 attempts to win her state, but because she believes in the Miss America ideal, she refuses to look elsewhere.

Group #2 = Veterans. These girls have been in numerous pageants - as children, as teenagers or as young women. Doesn't matter if they competed in the Miss America system or a different system (Miss USA, ANTSO, Teen Competitions, etc), pageants are as natural to them as crying on stage and waving in parades.

Group #3 = Babies. These are girls who have little to no pageant experience whatsoever. In our humble opinion, if you've competed in 5 or more pageants, you're no longer a baby. It's not about how old you are (you can be 24 or 18) - it's about how many pageants you've entered.

Miss America has certainly crowned their share of winners in each group... for example:

Purists = Jennifer Berry and Deidre Downs both won their respective states on their 5th try before moving on to be named Miss America. Debbye Turner and Debra Maffett each needed 4 attempts across 2 different states to win, rather than participate in a different system like Miss USA or others.

Veterans = Nearly all Miss America winners have 'some' pageant experience. Katie Stam, Lauren Nelson, Erica Dunlap and Teresa Scanlan all participated and did quite well at pageants in other systems before joining the Miss America system and winning the title (even though Katie, Lauren and Teresa all won their state on their first try).

Babies = The rarest of winners, when Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, Kristen Haglund and Kimberly Aiken all won the Miss America title, it was only their 3rd pageant ever (in all 3 cases).

So, based on this kind of 'pageant math', who falls in what category for the title of Miss America 2012? Let's take a peek:

Purists = Alabama, Virginia, Florida and Missouri. Bama won on her 6th attempt at Miss Alabama. Virginia, Florida and Missouri all won on their 5th attempt. These ladies get the perseverance award for what we're guessing is a total of 50+ pageants between the 4 of them. WOW!

Veterans = All of the MAOTeen Girls listed yesterday plus California, North Dakota and Kansas for sure... might be a few others who have various experiences with other systems, but those are the ones we know about. CA was Miss Teen World in 08 and Miss Teenage CA in 07, ND was Teen USA in '10 and KS was Teen USA in '04 and KS 'US' in 2010 (finishing as 2nd Runner Up).

Babies = DC, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Utah, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Maine and Wyoming
all won on their first trip to their state pageants! While we can't say ALL of these girls have been in less than 5 pageants, there's no doubt quite a few of them qualify (we know DC, UT and PA do for sure).

Most of the time, experience counts. Remember, in the past 23 years, only 3 'Babies' have been crowned. It's all part of the 'pageant math' we use when putting together our ballots!

Who do you have in your Top 5???

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Creating a Farm System...

Part of the fun at Miss America Junkies is the insane amount of research we do on each contestant. Normal people think we're crazy, but we consider it part of the job! For example, we can tell you that both Kentucky and New York were named the 1st Runner Up at Miss Sweetheart (NY in 2008, KY in 2010 - if you don't know what Miss Sweetheart is, google it!)! Or, that Miss Nebraska could've taken the crown when Teresa Scanlan won Miss America, but turned it down to come back and win on her own. Or that Arkansas is somehow related to Miss Arkansas 2004 Lacy Fleming who finished as the 3rd Runner Up to Deidre Downs Miss America 2005 (although, we're still looking for the full scoop on that one!). It's not an easy job, but someone's gotta do it!

Believe it or not, photos like this one make our job much easier!

This photo was taken in Orlando during the MAO Teen competition this past August. From Left to Right, it's Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, Texas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Georgia and North Dakota. Every one of these girls were once a "Teen" winner before becoming a "Miss" winner today. With 9 girls at Miss America who once were an official "Teen Winner" that says something about their ability to bring home the crown this year! Here's what we know:

- Kentucky finished as the 4th Runner Up to Teen winner Caitlin Brunell.
- Texas is the 4th former Miss Texas Teen to win the Texas state title (and we think she was a baton twirler as a Teen!).
- Minnesota described herself as skinny, gawky and awkward when she won MAO Teen in 2006 (and won what she called the 'nerd' award for academic achievement).
- North Dakota was MAO Teen AND Teen USA before winning her current title.

What does all this mean? Nothing yet... but one of these days, Miss America WILL crown a girl who was an MAO Teen... Last year, only 4 girls were MAO Teens before winning their state title (Hawaii finished as 2nd runner up and California made the Top 7 in 2011). Going from 4 girls who were MAO Teens in 2011 to 9 girls in 2012 proves one of our favorite theories; A farm system works in both baseball and pageants. :)

Who do you think is most likely to finish the highest out of this group?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Quality of Life Finalists!

The first major announcement during Pageant Week are the Quality of Life Finalists. Honestly, Miss America could use a lesson in branding with this award... Quality of Life always makes me think of 'old people' in a hospital or nursing home somewhere. It doesn't accurately reflect the countless hours of community service these girls perform when they win their titles. Truly, they could call it the "Golden Service Award" or the "Community Action Award" or something... Perhaps they're simply waiting on a sponsor (lol).

In any event - here are the eight finalists and their personal platform issues:

Miss Arkansas Kristen Glover – Second Chances Through Mentoring
Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape – C.A.R.E., Collegiate Athletes Reaching Everyone
Miss Kentucky Ann Blair Thornton – Alzheimer's Awareness and Research
Miss Michigan Elizabeth Wertenberger – Continue to Dream, Giving Hope to Children with Chronic Illness
Miss Minnesota Natalie Davis – Autism Awareness: The Missing Piece
Miss New Hampshire Regan Hartley – Bullying Awareness in Our Community
Miss New York Kaitlin Monte – Anti-Bullying Through Youth Leadership
Miss Ohio Ellen Bryan – Promoting Lightning Awareness, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors"

Did anyone else notice this was announced in alphabetical order? Wonder if you're able to connect those dots when you're standing on stage? Might want to 'mix it up' next time to keep everyone on their toes!

In case you're a Newbie, here's a little more about the Quality of Life Awards from the Miss America Press Release...

The Quality of Life Awards were introduced in 1988 to recognize contestants who excel in their commitment to community service. In order to be considered for the Quality of Life Award, contestants must submit an application describing their involvement with Children's Miracle Network, the national platform of the Miss America Organization, and their own personal platform issue.

The winner of the Quality of Life Award will receive a $6,000 scholarship, the first runner-up will win a $4,000 scholarship, and the second runner-up will win a $2,000 scholarship. Winners will be announced at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on January 14 during the 3 p.m. (PST) press conference.

While the Quality of Life Award TECHNICALLY has nothing to do with how you finish as a competitor (you don't get any 'points' for being a finalist or a winner of the QoL) it does tell you which contestants have compelling stories to share during their personal interview with the judges. Plus, there's some really good topics this year! Ohio's Lightening Awareness is the first of it's kind at Miss America (her sister was struck by lightening and is now disabled), and Bullying from New Hampshire and New York is a perfect fit given all the national media attention it's getting. Something else these finalists all have in common, they're basically 'lived' their platform issue. Michigan has survived a chronic childhood disease... Hawaii was a collegiate athlete... Kentucky's grandfather struggled with Alzheimer's... etc, etc. Again, it has no bearing on whether or not they'll make it into the Top 15, but they've already got a leg-up when it comes to communicating an emotional story about how they've served their state so far.

Plus, don't they all look beautiful in their clothing from Express? I appreciate how they all have Red, White and Blue as the 'pop' of color (along with Black and White). Based on initial photos, I didn't see any fashion-faux-pas... but the week is still young :)

Stay Tuned... We're just getting started! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Putting the pieces together...

After doing some perusing of the Miss America Press Releases, I came across this announcement regarding our new Swimsuit Sponsor, Kompliqué:

Showcasing strength, body, intelligence and beauty via their new official swimwear sponsor Kompliqué; the swimwear features vibrant colors and bold patterns that match the style and personalities of the individual Miss America contestants—and the bold new direction the Miss America brand is taking.

President and CEO of the Miss America Organization, Art McMaster states, “This year we are celebrating the vibrancy, individual style and colorful personalities of our contestants, and aligning with Kompliqué as the official swimwear sponsor, will allow each contestant’s personal style to shine in the fitness and health competition. It will bring an entirely new dynamic to the production of this year’s show as it emphasizes the intelligence and health of today’s young women.”

That causes me to raise an eyebrow... and it tells me something about who will be likely to win this year's pageant.

While Teresa Scanlan has been OUTSTANDING and I mean OUTSTANDING as Miss America 2011, it appears that in 2012, we're going to see someone who is not a serious, or dare I say, as 'mature' as Teresa is (I know - she's only 18, but she's way more mature than I am on most days!). Obviously, we're still going to crown someone who's capable and confident, someone who's talented and poised, but we're going to crown someone who's a little 'silly'... a little 'quirky'... and a little 'fun'. I know, I know, Teresa has the whole 'duck tape' thing going for her (she loves making things out of duck tape and even served as the Grand Marshall for a National Duck Tape parade held earlier this year) - but let's face it. The girl is mature beyond her years. In 2012, they're now looking for someone who's got flair, someone a bit silly, someone who isn't afraid to be 'uncool' or 'cheesy' in their own special way... and wrapping it up with the label of 'a great personality'. :)

So - based on our research, here's who we're finding that has a bit of this 'Bold New Direction' that Miss America says they're looking for:

- South Carolina. She's not just the beauty queen who lost 100 pounds, she also does impersonations (Cher and Paula Dean to name a few). That's got cheesy written all over it.
- Oklahoma. The girl grew up on a dairy farm in a town of 880 people. And she's a championship Irish Step Dancer (amongst 4, count 'em 4 step dancers this year... more on that later). We say that's 'fun' and brings 'flair'.
- Kentucky. We weren't overly impressed with her video, but she's known Heather French ever since her days in the MAOTeen competition and the families are friends. She's always grinning ear to ear in her photos and despite the fact that we wish she would've taken the video a bit more seriously, we think she's still a contender with this line of 'silly' thinking.
- Missouri. Last we heard, this girl is gonna sing "Dream On" a cappella in a leather bustier for her Talent. Now THAT'S the definition of 'quirky' if we ever heard it! She's so incredibly genuine - if she has a good interview, we think she's got a serious shot at Top 5.

As I've said before... these are my musings and you're welcome to take them for whatever it's worth... But when the Press Releases start talking about a 'Bold New Direction', it's my opinion that you best pay attention and prepare to see a different kind of girl.

Anyone think I'm crazy???

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again!!! :)

Here we are! The first week of January usually signifies something special in the life of pageant girls (at least since this blog began a few years ago)... It's time for us to begin our journey towards crowning the new Miss America 2012!!! In just a few short days, we'll have ourselves a New Queen - but between now and then, this is the best place to learn all of the official 'inside scoop' on the competition and the crown!

But before we get started on my rantings, let me set a few ground rules. Such rules aren't typically the way I'd begin a new post, but because so many new followers have recently come through our Facebook Fan page, I thought it might be necessary to 'Set the Stage'...

1. If you're one of my long-time friends/family members who has seen my Miss America obsession morph into the web, thanks for hanging in there with me. At least you don't have to see all this stuff on my personal FB page anymore.

2. If you've found this blog because of our official Miss America Junkies Facebook page, then welcome! There's several year's worth of commentary that began as simple emails to my closest friends/family on this blog (see right hand side under 'blog archive 2011, January... trust me, it's all there). I'm not sure I ever thought I would publish these thoughts beyond emails, so just keep that in mind. "Miss America Junkies" was birthed as a personal way for me to keep in touch with friends/family across the country during Miss America week. Plus - it was hilarious when the Miss America reality shows were all the rage a few years ago!

3. Regardless of how you've found this page, you should know these are my personal thoughts and opinions about Miss America. That means, I might say something unfavorable about your state. Truth is, I think I've said something unfavorable about every state (so at least there's equal opportunity offensiveness going on!). :) If you're looking for cute photos and pithy commentary, then please continue with just the Facebook page. This blog is where I get much more specific and much more opinionated. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong... but the last thing I want is for this blog to be boring. I'm not as bad as Perez Hilton, but I thought I'd at least give you fair warning :)

That all being said - The majority of the girls are arriving in Vegas today (January 4th) and their official arrival ceremony starts tomorrow afternoon at Planet Hollywood. As soon as pictures become available, we'll make sure you see 'em! They say the ceremony will be indoors this year, which is different than years previous (not sure where they'll host that) - so we'll let you know. Also, the most disappointing part of this year's festivities is the fact there will NOT BE A PARADE!!! I'm completely bummed as I think this was a spectacular highlight during the competition week! DSW pulled their sponsorship, which means no shoe parade. Pictures from last year's event are below should you choose to reminisce...

Otherwise - Enjoy the crazy commentary about to begin via this blog! If you haven't already viewed the videos of each Miss America contestant, you're behind! Check 'em out here . This is the best place to objectively take a peek at all the girls and determine who's in it to win it, and who's a bimbo (and you'll certainly see both!).

The winner will be crowned live on ABC next Saturday night! Whooooooooooo Hoooooooooooo!!! :)