Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler is crowned by Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan after being named Miss America 2012 during the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas on Saturday. Photo Credit: REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler, 23, who is from Kenosha, won the Miss America 2012 pageant in Las Vegas on Saturday, The Associated Press reported via the Huffington Post.

Kaeppeler took home the coveted crown after singing opera, wowing judges in a white bikini, and stunning them in a black beaded evening gown.

The Washington Post reported that Kaeppeler was crowned after answering a question from Good Morning America host Lara Spencer. The query centered on whether Miss America should be allowed to declare a political affiliation.

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.

The AP reported that Kaeppeler wins a $50,000 scholarship and holds the title for a year. Her father, Jeff Kaeppeler, told the AP that he served 18 months in federal prison for mail fraud. Therefore, mentoring children of incarcerated parents is near and dear to his daughter's heart.

Jeff Kaeppeler also told the AP that his daughter's win was the best day of his life.

In the Miss America competition, Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson placed second, and Miss New York Kaitlin Monte came in third.


Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler competes in the swimsuit portion of the 2012 Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas on Saturday. Kaeppeler was later named Miss America 2012. Photo Credit: REUTERS/Steve Marcus

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