Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler, 23, has won Miss America 2012. The finals of the pageant were held on Saturday night at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Kaeppeler took home the crown after answering whether beauty queens should declare their politics.
"Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well," Kaeppeler said. "And so in these economic times, we need to be looking forward to what America needs, and I think Miss America needs to represent all."
Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson came in second and Miss New York Kaitlyn Monte placed third. Kaeppeler crown sang opera before taking home the crown.
Kaeppeler's platform during the competition was supporting and mentoring children of incarcerated parents. Her father, Jeff Kaeppeler, told The Associated Press that he served 18 months in federal prison for mail fraud. He said his daughter's win was the best day of his life.
A panel of seven judges chose Kaeppeler as the winner. The judges included actress Teri Polo, reality TV star Kris Jenner and "Dancing With the Stars' Mark Ballas.
Kaeppeler took over the reign from Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, who is the youngest winner ever after winning the crown last year at age 17. The new Miss America will spend the next year touring the country and speaking to different groups. She will also be raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, the Miss America Organization's official charity, the Huffington Post reported.
Here are some interesting facts that you should know about the new Miss America 2012:
- She is from Kenosha, Wis.
- She went to St. Joseph High School and graduated Carthage College in Kenosha in 2010.
- She has a Bachelors of Arts in Music with an emphasis in vocal performance. Her scholastic honors include making the Dean's List, Outstanding Senior Music Major Award and Music Department Honor's Recital Participant.
- Her scholastic ambition is to get a Master's degree in speech and language pathology, as she wants to become a speech pathologist.
- Her talent was operatic vocal.
- She founded Circles of Support because of her personal experience. According to the Web site, Circles of Support was created in order to "reduce the endless cycle of crime by mentoring children of incarcerated parents." The group helps children overcome adversities.
- During her studies, she traveled to Europe for a collegiate choir tour and sang at Carnegie Hall, according to the Circles of Support Web site.
- She was a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus.
- She is currently the owner of a private music studio and instructor of voice and piano.
- She also has plans to pursue a degree in Family and Child Advocacy Law, according to the Circles of Support Web site.