Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska crowned Miss America

Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:54pm EST
 
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By Timothy Pratt

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Reuters) - Nebraska's 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan was named Miss America Saturday becoming the youngest winner ever in the pageant's history after a night of being judged for poise, talent, fitness and knowledge.

Scanlan wowed the judges wearing a stunning white evening gown and tickling the ivories on piano with rousing rendition of "White Water Chopped Sticks" in the talent competition.

In the final question, she was asked about the leaking of confidential government information by website WikiLeaks and whether U.S. security or the people's right to know sensitive information was more important.

Scanlan saw the leaks as a matter of espionage and said: "When it comes to the security of our nation, we have to focus on security first and then people's right to know ... We can't let things like that happen, and they must be handled properly, and I think that was the case."

The first runner-up, who will take Miss America's place in the case Scanlan can't perform her new role, was Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady.

Among other noteworthy contestants was Miss Delaware, Kayla Martell, who made it into the semifinals. Martell suffers from a disease, alopecia areata, that caused her to lose all her hair at age 10, and she competed in a wig.

This year marked the 90th pageant in the history of Miss America. The organization runs achievement programs and is a major provider of scholarship assistance for young women. In 2010, the group and its state and local affiliates helped give out more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance.

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<p>Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan (C), 17, is mobbed by other contestants after being crowned Miss America 2011 during the Miss America Pageant at the Theatre for the Performing Arts at the Planet Hollywood Resort &amp; Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 15, 2011. Scanlan was named Miss America on Saturday becoming the youngest winner ever in the pageant's history after a night of being judged for poise, talent, fitness and knowledge. REUTERS/Steve Marcus</p>