By OSKAR GARCIA
LAS VEGAS — Fifty-three women are vying for the Miss America crown on Saturday night, an honor that carries with it a $50,000 scholarship and a yearlong run as an idol to many young girls throughout the country.
Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron planned to crown the winner after a two-hour competition televised live nationally on ABC.
After an opening number, hosts Brooke Burke and Chris Harrison will announce 16 finalists, including one chosen by fans through online and mobile phone voting. The girls will then compete in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions, and a panel of judges will pick a winner.
The competition is the finale of a week of preliminary contests, with each queen having already won her state crown. The 53 contestants include one from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Preliminary scores count 30 percent toward a contestant’s score to get into the top five. The talent competition counts for 30 percent, while the swimsuit and evening gown competitions each count for 20 percent. After the final five contestants answer a question onstage, each judge will rank them in order. The winner will be determined solely from that ballot.
During the preliminaries, three competitors – Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier, Miss Alabama, Ashley Davis and Miss Oklahoma Emoly West – won nightly swimsuit competitions worth $1,000 each. Miss Rhode Island Deborah Saint Vil, Miss North Carolina Adrienne Core and Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan each won talent contests, winning $2,000 apiece.
The $50,000 top prize is among $349,000 in prizes given by the Miss America Organization at the national level. The organization bills itself as the country’s largest scholarship provider for women.
Each of the contestants was guaranteed at least $3,000, with the first runner-up receiving $25,000 and third place winner getting $20,000.
Pageant officials on Friday said Miss Michigan Katie LaRoche won $6,000 for the Quality of Life award, a scholarship given for volunteerism and community service. LaRoche’s platform is raising awareness of human trafficking. Miss Delaware Kayla Martell was first runner-up for the award, while Miss New Jersey Ashleigh Udalovas was second runner-up.
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