- (Reuters: Steve Marcus)
Laura Kaeppeler of Kenosha, Wis., has won the 2012 Miss America pageant.
"Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well," Kaeppeler said, according to the Associated Press, when asked if Miss America should address politics. "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."
Kaeppeler won the pageant Saturday night in Las Vegas, impressing judges with her grace in a white bikini and her black beaded evening gown. Kaeppeler also sang opera and won the talent round.
Betty Thompson, Miss Oklahoma, came in second, and Kaitlyn Monte, Miss New York, came in third place.
Kaeppeler’s win entitles her to a $50,000 scholarship and the title of Miss America for one year. She will also tour the country this year and raise money for the Miss America Organization's official charity, Children's Miracle Network.
The Miss America Organization, which considers itself the world's largest giver of scholarships to women, has $350,000 to be given this year in scholarships at the national level, AP reported.