No matter where I go, people are fascinated with America’s royalty, Miss America.  On the flight here yesterday, I sold two books to people sitting near me on the plane and could have sold more if I had had them in my bag.


Here I am in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood, today just an ordinary folk, tomorrow a potential celebrity.  I set up my book signing table in the Miss America merchandise room and started selling books.  Lee Meriwether, Miss America 1955, stopped by.  I signed a book for her beautiful granddaughter, Ryan. 


The public never sees the three nights of preliminary competition in the week before the televised Pageant, out of which the top fifteen contestants are chosen.  The contestants are divided into three groups and each night the groups rotate through the different competitions of talent, swimsuit, gown and interview.


Last night’s first Miss America Preliminary Competition was held in the 7,000 seat Planet Hollywood Theater for the Performing Arts.  People carried placards to cheer their home state contestant on.  I expect to see lots of glitz and glamour on Saturday night when the final televised competition is held, but there was plenty of cleavage and sparkle last night as well.  They’re going to have to ramp it up for Saturday night to out do last night!


Two years ago I was just a face in the crowd with a dream and an insistent desire. This year I was greeted with big hugs from Rebecca King, Miss America 1974, Donna Axum, Miss America, 1964 and Sam Haskell, chairman of the board.


Fifty-two gorgeous contestants strutted their stuff on stage.  This year’s talent, at least in the first group of 18, was heavy on piano and song.  Miss Delaware, Galen Giaccone, won for a rousing rendition of “El Cubanchero” on the piano.


I don’t know how the judges could chose between all those eighteen beautiful young women parading around in hankerchiefs for the swimsuit competition, but chose they did with Miss Indiana, Katie Stam, buff and beautiful, coming out as number one.  It takes a special kind of confidence and poise to appear comfortable and relaxed in so little before so many.  As many of the former Miss Americas I interviewed for my book, Pretty Smart: Lessons from our Miss Americas, said, “If I could do that, I can do anything.” That’s a lesson for all of us about doing what you must to achieve a goal.