Laura Kaeppeler, from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was declared Miss America 2012, on Jan. 14, at Las Vegas.
Kaeppeler finished at the top of the 53-strong field and was duly crowned by the 2011 winner of the pageant, Teresa Scanlan.
I was crying even before my name was called, Kaeppeler said, It was just surreal to have this honor.
The 23-year-old also won a $50,000 scholarship and a further $2,000 for her operatic vocal performance of Il Bacio in the talent competition. Kaeppeler impressed the judges with her answer on the political stand of a beauty queen.
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.
However, Kaeppeler's win was something of an upset.
It appears that the fan favorite all along was the first runner-up, Betty Thompson of Oklahoma. She topped the online votes but couldn't find a way past Kaeppeler at the judges' table.
Meanwhile, Miss New York - Kaitlin Monte - was the second runner-up and Miss Arizona - Jennifer Sedler - the third.
Thompson was declared stunning during the swimsuit competition, wearing a red bikini and was equally impressive in the talent round, with her rendition of an Irish step dance. She was asked, in the interview, if the government should be able to regulate diets prescribed by a mother to her child - her answer was to indicate that was a parent's responsibility and a matter to be dealt with at home.
The judges had a tough time choosing between Kaeppeler and Thompson, before ultimately settling for the former.
However, as per pageant rules, Thompson will take Kaeppeler's place, if the newly crowned Miss America is unable to fulfill her duties for any reason.