Beauty queens vie for Miss America title in Vegas
This photo courtesy Miss America Organization shows Miss North Dakota Rosie Sauvageau took top honors Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, after her piano and vocal rendition of "To Make You Feel My Love." The 24-year-old from Fargo, N.D., will take home a $2,000 Amway scholarship from the competition at Planet Hollywood resort in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Miss America Organization)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Beauty pageant contestants danced in multicolored knee-length dresses onstage at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip as the 92nd Miss America competition got under way Saturday night.
The show is the culmination of a week of preliminary competitions and months of preparations for the titleholders from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The contestants have been staying at hotel-casino, but the humming slot machines have been little more than a blurry backdrop for a tight schedule of rehearsals, media events and one-on-one interviews with the judges.
Among the preliminary winners were Miss Maryland and Miss Oklahoma. Miss Puerto Rico sprained her ankle while showing the judges her flamenco talent, and returned for the swimsuit preliminary on crutches after fainting from the pain backstage.
Hosts Brooke Burke-Charvet, of "Dancing with the Stars," and Chris Harrison, of "The Bachelor," are preparing to announce the field of 15 finalists. The women who survive the initial cut will face off in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions, with cuts after each round.
Organizers have added an "American Idol"-inspired twist in which fans can bring back a favorite contestant through online and mobile phone voting.
Preliminary scores and the talent competition each count for 30 percent of a contestant's score, while swimsuit and evening gown competitions each count for 20 percent.
The top five finalists will answer a question posed by the panel of judges.
This photo courtesy Miss America Organization shows Miss Washington Mandy Schendel who took the trophy for the third round of the Lifestyle and Fitness category after modeling a strapless white Catalina swimsuit on Thursday. Jan. 10, 2013, at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas. The 22-year-old from Newcastle, Wash., earned a $1,000 Amway scholarship for it. (AP Photo/Miss America Organization)
At the end of the night, the reigning Miss America, 24-year-old Wisconsin brunette Laura Kaeppeler, will hand over her crown.
The crown carries with it a $50,000 scholarship and a yearlong run as an advocate and role model. The winner will go on tour, speaking to groups around the country and raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, the pageant's official charity.
The pageant started as little more than an Atlantic City bathing suit revue. It broke viewership records in its heyday and bills itself as one of the world's largest scholarships programs for women.