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Archive for Sunday, September 21, 2003

Miss Florida crowned Miss America

September 21, 2003

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— Miss Florida Ericka Dunlap beat out 50 rivals Saturday to be crowned Miss America in a pageant that featured some of the brainiest contestants that judges have seen in years.

Dunlap wins a rhinestone tiara, a runway walk, $50,000 in scholarship aid, a yearlong national speaking tour and -- after it -- the permanent tag of "former Miss America."

Miss Hawaii Kanoelani Gibson was first runner-up and Miss Wisconsin Tina Sauerhammer was second runner-up. Miss Maryland Marina Harrison and Miss California Nicole Lamarche rounded out the final five.

The daughter of a roofing contractor and a nurse, Dunlap aspires to go to law school when she graduates and become an attorney specializing in sports and entertainment.

Dunlap defeated rivals with impressive academic credentials.

Sauerhammer is already an M.D. at age 22; Miss Virginia Nancy Redd and Miss Rhode Island Laurie Gray, are both recent Harvard University graduates; and Miss New Mexico Rana Jones, is a second-year law student.

Kansas was represented in the pageant by Angelea Busby, 21, a Kansas University senior from Lenexa.

Three days after the approach of Hurricane Isabel threatened to postpone the whole shebang, the pageant was all set for Boardwalk Hall, the Depression-era landmark that has hosted it every year since 1940.

In the live three-hour telecast, the women's brains were to be evaluated in addition to their bodies. For the third year in a row, a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"-style quiz was part of the contest.

And for the first time ever, a "casual wear" competition was added.

Dunlap was crowned by Miss America 2003 Erika Harold, 23, of Urbana, Ill., who won the title last year after delaying her entry to Harvard Law School.

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