Home>News Center>Life
         
 

Miss Alabama crowned Miss America
(Agencies)
Updated: 2004-09-19 18:31

Miss Alabama Deidre Downs, an aspiring doctor who put off medical school to compete for the Miss America crown, won it Saturday night.


Miss Alabama Diedre Downs models her swimsuit during final night competition in the Miss America pageant at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 18, 2004. Downs was later named Miss America 2005. [Reuters]
Downs, 24, of Birmingham, Ala., outsmarted and outperformed 51 other women in a spiced-up version of the 83-year-old pageant that included a head-to-head showdown between the last two contestants.

Downs, who sang "I'm Afraid This Must Be Love" for her talent routine, bested Miss Louisiana Jennifer Dupont, who performed a jazz dance for hers.

Miss North Carolina Kristin Elrod was second runner-up, followed by Miss Arkansas Lacy Fleming and Miss California Veena Goel.

Downs, who wants to be a pediatrician, will take up the cause of childhood cancer prevention during her reign as Miss America. In fact, she already has: She helped persuade the state of Alabama to offer a "Curing Childhood Cancer" car tag, the purchase of which will help fund cancer research.

"I would love to be the Miss America that really brings this organization back into the fabric of popular culture, makes this part of Americana again," she said after winning.

Fifty-two women including, for the first time ever, a contestant from the U.S. Virgin Islands competed for the crown in a two-hour show producers hoped would turn the tide on declining TV ratings.

Taking a page from reality TV, Miss America producers spiced up the prime-time special by enlisting "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison, crooner Clay Aiken and some new production touches in a bid to keep people watching.

The telecast marked the 50th year since Sept. 11, 1954, when Lee Meriwether was crowned Miss America 1955 during the first Miss America pageant to be televised.

This year's pageant retained the same basic elements, but with plenty of updates, including the Miss America Quiz, an eight-question pop quiz on U.S. history, U.S. government and current events given to the five finalists.

The talent competition, which once showcased 10 of the contestants, was trimmed to two, and the traditional "parade of states" introduction of the contestants was reworked to eliminate some of the tedium.

In a nod to successful reality shows like "Last Comic Standing" and "American Idol," Downs and Dupont squared off in a head-to-head talent showdown near the end of the telecast to help the seven-judge panel decide who got to make the tearful runway walk in Boardwalk Hall.

Downs will get more than that, though: She earned a $50,000 college scholarship, a modicum of overnight celebrity and a yearlong reign that can net up to $200,000 in appearance fees.

Citing hour-to-hour Nielsen ratings that traditionally ebb during the talent competition, pageant producers axed the often-amateurish singing, dancing or baton-twirling acts that had been a part of Miss America since 1938.

The swimsuit contest was briefer, too, in a sense. Showing more skin than ever, the contestants competed in racy two-piece swimsuits provided to Miss America under a two-year sponsorship deal with maker Speedo.

Downs succeeds Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap, 22, an aspiring attorney from Orlando, Fla., who spent her year advocating the celebration of diversity.



Vietnamese fashion show
2004 Turkey Creek Car Show
New York fashion show
  Today's Top News     Top Life News
 

Hu takes over as CPC military commission chief

 

   
 

Corrupt land minister expelled from CPC

 

   
 

Jiang retires, proposes Hu to succeed

 

   
 

Vice premier: Economic curbs are working

 

   
 

Potala Palace repairs done in Tibetan style

 

   
 

Bomb threat postpones Beijing trade fair

 

   
  Hotelier checks in for literary greatness
   
  World's beer fans meet for Munich binge
   
  Beatles' visit to Arkansas remembered
   
  Miss Alabama crowned Miss America
   
  'Home Alone' star Culkin arrested on drug charges
   
  Want fries with that ice cream? Ah, you're pregnant
   
 
  Go to Another Section  
 
 
  Story Tools  
   
  Feature  
  Chinese Lady Dai leaves Egyptian mummies for dead  
Advertisement