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Miss USA contestant resigns, says pageant was fixed

In a resignation announcement brimming with indignation, this year’s Miss Pennsylvania USA said she felt compelled to turn in her crown.

“Effective immediately I have voluntarily, completely, and utterly removed myself from the Miss Universe Organization,” beauty queen Sheena Monnin posted on Facebook. “In good conscience I can no longer be affiliated in any way with an organization I consider to be fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways trashy.”

  • Slideshow Photos

    Steve Marcus / X00642

    Image: Miss California Carrie Prejean

    Beauty queen scandals

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

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    Miss Delaware Teen USA -

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Melissa King, Miss Delaware Teen USA, resigned her crown on Feb. 26, 2013, after a sex video featuring a woman resembling her surfaced online.

    @Melissa_M_King\Twitter / @Melissa_M_King\Twitter
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    Called Miss USA 'rigged' -

    After Miss Pennsylvania 2012, Sheena Monnin, spoke out on Facebook against the Miss Universe organization in June, calling it "trashy" and "rigged," co-owner Donald Trump threatened a lawsuit.

    Miss Universe Organization / Miss Universe Organization
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    Facing DUI charges -

    Former Miss USA Rima Fakih, pictured here on April 11, 2012 as she faces DUI charges in district court in Highland Park, Mich. Fakih pleaded no contest in the case, and on May 9 she was sentenced to probation and community service for driving under the influence and getting pulled over with an open Champagne bottle in her car.

    AP, Reuters / AP, Reuters
  • Image: Canadian model Talackova attends news conference in Los Angeles

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    A transgender Miss Universe? -

    Jenna Talackova, a transgender beauty queen, protested the decision by pageant representatives to drop her from the Miss Universe Canada competition. She was finally given the green light to go by the Donald Trump-led Miss Universe Organization. The 23-year-old will, however, need to prove that she meets the "legal gender recognition requirements of Canada," according to local media.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Shannon Marketic, Miss USA 1992

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    Miss California 1992 -

    They may be beautiful, but the competition can get ugly. From blackmail to sabotage, check out the underside of the pageant circuit.

    First up: Miss California 1992 Shannon Marketic, center, was accused of stealing almost $90 in beauty products from a Target store in August 2010. Marketic, 38, denies stealing the items and says they rolled in the cart and landed underneath her purse.

    AP, Denton Police Department / AP, Denton Police Department
  • Carrie Prejean,  Billy Bush,  Nadine Velazquez

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    Former Miss California USA 2009 -

    Hosts Billy Bush and Nadine Velazquez listen as Miss California Carrie Prejean makes her highly publicized answer to a question from judge Perez Hilton about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas on April 19, 2009. The controversy grew in ensuing weeks when Prejean became the spokesperson for a national group opposing same-sex unions, after which racy photos of her surfaced. Prejean blamed people opposing her views for the release of the photos. She eventually surrendered her crown after pageant officials accused her of missing events, an allegation she denied.

    AP / AP
  • Dayana Mendoza

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    Miss Universe 2008 -

    Crowned Miss Universe in July 2008, Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza kept her crown despite risque photos that showed the beauty queen topless, though covering most of her chest. The Miss Universe president said that Mendoza’s photographs had "artistic beauty."

    AP / AP
  • Playboy Playmate Athena Lundberg Celebrates At Hawaiian Tropic Zone

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    Miss Washington 2008 -

    Elyse Umemoto, Miss Washington and second runner-up in this year's Miss America pageant, was shown flipping off the camera while wearing her crown, playing beer pong, posing in her bra and making suggestive hand signs on TMZ.com.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Miss South Florida Fair 2008

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    Miss South Florida Fair 2008 -

    Jessica Wittenbrink, who was crowned Miss South Florida Fair 2008, says her evening gown was smeared with lipstick during the competition.

    Palm Beach Post via Zuma Press / Palm Beach Post via Zuma Press
  • Ingrid Marie Rivera

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    Miss Puerto Rico 2007 -

    Ingrid Marie Rivera smiles during a beauty pageant in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Rivera beat 29 rivals to become the island's 2008 Miss Universe contestant, despite applying makeup and wearing evening gowns that had been coated with pepper spray, pageant spokesman Harold Rosario said.

    AP / AP
  • Amy Polumbo

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    Miss New Jersey 2007 -

    Amy Polumbo was crowned Miss New Jersey 2007. An anonymous person threatened to reveal "scandalous" photos of the beauty queen, but Polumbo refused to cave in to the blackmail. She took the incident public and revealed the photos herself on TODAY.

    AP / AP
  • Tara Elizabeth Conner

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    Miss USA 2006 -

    Tara Conner, representing Kentucky, won the Miss USA title in 2006 and moved to New York City where she partied in clubs and drank despite being underage. Donald Trump gave her a reprieve, allowing her to retain the title after she agreed to enter rehab and undergo drug testing.

    AP / AP
  • MISS TEEN USA 2007 COMPETITION

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    Miss South Carolina Teen USA -

    Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina, became a Internet sensation with her nonsensical answer to a question during the Miss Teen USA competition in August 2007. The 18-year-old got a chance to redeem herself on TODAY when she was again asked why one-fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a map.

    Miss Universe via AP / Miss Universe via AP
  • Valerie Begue

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    Miss France 2008 -

    Despite racy photos that appeared recently in a gossip magazine, Miss France 2008 Valerie Begue will keep her crown, but will not compete in the Miss World or Miss Universe pageants.

    AP / AP
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    Miss Nevada USA 2006 -

    Katie Rees was stripped of her title in 2006 after racy photos of her appeared on the Internet. Some of the photos showed her kissing other young women, exposing her breasts and pulling down her pants to show her thong underwear. Afterwards, Rees signed a two-year, $2 million-plus deal to host a variety show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. In April, Rees agreed to pay fines for five misdemeanor traffic violations in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge of resisting arrest.

    AP / AP
  • Ashley Harder

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    Miss New Jersey USA 2007 -

    Ashley Harder held the title of Miss New Jersey USA 2007 and was set to compete in the Miss USA pageant before she became pregnant and voluntarily stepped down. Runner-up Erin Abrahamson assumed the title.

    Courier-Post via AP / Courier-Post via AP
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    Miss California USA 2008 -

    Christina Silva, 24, was declared Miss California USA in November only to have her crown revoked days later. Pageant official say a mix-up in tallying the votes led to the wrong woman being crowned. Silva, who is Hispanic, is suing the pageant, alleging rigging and racial bias.

    AP / AP
  • Miss World 2004 Crowned In Sanya

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    Miss Great Britain 2006 -

    Danielle Lloyd was stripped of her title after it was revealed that she had posed nude for Playboy and amid accusations that she was dating one of the judges at the time of the contest. Lloyd went on to star in the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 where she and other contestants were accused of bullying and making racist comments about Indian actress Shilpa Shetty.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Bench Warmer Trading Cards Pre-Valentine Day Event

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    Miss United States Teen 2003 -

    Former Miss Oregon Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche was stripped of her title in 2003 after she posed nude for Playboy magazine. Peniche appeared as a patient on the VH1 television show Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew but was involuntarily discharged.

    In 2009, a racy video of Peniche, "Grey’s Anatomy" star Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart was leaked. The 12-minute video was said to be shot inside Peniche’s apartment, and within it, Gayheart said she was high.

    WireImage / WireImage
  • Image: Miss Teen Louisiana busted for allegedly skipping out on the bill

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    Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 -

    Miss Louisiana Teen USA 2008 Lindsey Evans was stripped of her crown 10 days before completing her reign. She and her friends skipped out on a $46 restaurant bill, and Evans left behind her purse, which contained a bag of marijuana. The women were arrested for theft and drug possession when they returned to retrieve the purse.

    Splash News / Splash News
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    Miss Universe 2002 -

    Former Miss Russia Oxana Fedorova was fired less than four months into her reign for missing too many events. She was a law student at the time and complained that being Miss Universe interfered with her education. "I never had any intention of abandoning my university work," she said.

    The pageant president said contestants know Miss Universe is a full-time job and that winners spend 80 percent of their time traveling as goodwill ambassadors.

    AP / AP
  • Vanessa Williams Relinquishes Her Miss America Title

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    Miss America 1984 -

    Vanessa Williams, representing New York, became the first black Miss America. She had to resign when nude photos taken before her beauty contest victories were published in Penthouse. The crown was given to Suzette Charles, who's also black. Williams later became a successful singer with such hits as "Save the Best for Last," and "Colors of the Wind." Some of her movie credits include "Eraser," "Soul Food" and "Dance with Me." She currently plays the scheming fashion editor on "Ugly Betty."

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    Miss World 1973 -

    Marjorie Wallace was dethroned about four months into her reign, after she was accused of dating too many high-profile men, including professional soccer player George Best and singer Tom Jones. The organizers said the first woman from the U.S. to win the title hadn't maintained Miss World's reputation. She later became a television host for "Good Morning Los Angeles" and "Entertainment Tonight."

    Everning Standard via Getty Images / Everning Standard via Getty Images

Monnin, 27, alleged that Sunday’s Miss USA competition, which is run by the Miss Universe Organization, was fixed. She said she had evidence that the top five contestants were selected in advance of Sunday’s show.

“I witnessed another contestant who said she saw the list of the Top 5 BEFORE THE SHOW EVER STARTED proceed to call out in order who the Top 5 were before they were announced on stage,” Monnin wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged; I decided at that moment to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own.”

  • Slideshow Photos

    Julie Jacobson / AP

    Image: Olivia Culpo

    Miss USA 2012

    Fifty-one hopefuls were whittled down to one winner after the swimsuit, evening gown and interview competitions.

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    And the winner is... -

    Miss Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo, center, is surrounded by fellow contestants after being crowned Miss USA during the 2012 Miss USA pageant, Sunday, June 3 in Las Vegas.

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    Miss Rhode Island looks toward the audience after being crowned Miss USA.

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  • Image: Miss Rhode Island Culpo reacts as she is crowned during the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas

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    Passing on the crown -

    Miss Rhode Island reacts as she is crowned by Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella.

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  • Image: Miss Rhode Island Culpo with Miss Maryland Meriwether during Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas

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    The last two -

    Miss Rhode Island waits with Miss Maryland, Nana Meriwether, before the winner of Miss USA 2012 is announced.

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    Miss USA 2012

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    Fabulous five -

    The five top five finalists, from left, Miss Ohio, Miss Maryland, Miss Rhode Island, Miss Nevada and Miss Georgia stand together during the 2012 Miss USA pageant.

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    Miss USA 2012

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    Best dressed -

    The top 10 finalists pose in their evening gowns.

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    Miss USA 2012

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    Top ten -

    The ten Miss USA finalists pose on stage during the 2012 Miss USA pageant, in Las Vegas.

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    Miss USA 2012

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    Swimming style -

    Miss Colorado, Marybel Gonzalez, walks the runway during the swimsuit competition during the 2012 Miss USA pageant.

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    Miss USA 2012

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    Looking swimmingly -

    Miss Rhode Island takes part in the swimsuit competition.

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    Miss USA 2012

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    Showing off swimwear -

    Miss Maryland, Nana Meriwether, walks in the swimsuit competition during the 2012 Miss USA pageant.

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    Tonight's hosts are... -

    Andy Cohen, center left, and Giuliana Rancic open the 2012 Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.

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    Miss USA 2012

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    Sweet sixteen -

    Miss Ohio, Audrey Bolte, walks along the stage after being announced as one of 16 finalists during the 2012 Miss USA pageant.

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    Cutting down the competition -

    Miss Texas, Brittany Booker, right, walks along the stage after being announced as one of the 16 finalists during the 2012 Miss USA pageant.

    AP / AP
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    Picked from the pack -

    Miss New Jersey, Michelle Leonardo, left, reacts as she is announced as one of the 16 finalists during the 2012 Miss USA pageant.

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    Co-Owner of the Miss Universe Organization, Donald Trump, addresses Miss USA contestants on the last day of rehearsal for the Miss USA 2012 Competition.

    AP / AP

In a statement, the Miss Universe Organization dismissed Monnin’s allegations as “false” and said Monnin told pageant officials she was resigning for a different reason: Because she did not agree with the organization’s recent decision to admit transgender contestants.

Pageant officials released an email message they said they received from Monnin on Monday that read, “I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it. This goes against ever (sic) moral fiber of my being.”

On her Facebook page, Monnin describes herself as “conservative” and sums up her religious views by citing the Bible verse John 3:16.

Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old cellist from Rhode Island, won the Miss USA crown on Sunday night after voicing her support for transgender beauty queens. Culpo will go on to represent the United States in this year’s Miss Universe pageant.

“We are disappointed that [Monnin] would attempt to steal the spotlight form Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island on her well-deserved Miss USA win,” the Miss Universe Organization said in its statement. “The contestant she privately sourced as her reference [of pageant-fixing] has vehemently refuted her most recent claim.”

  • Slideshow Photos

    11 surprising facts about Miss USA contestants

    From living in refugee camps to having weird phobias, these contestants for Miss USA 2012 are more than just pretty faces.

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    Biker babe -

    The 51 women competing in Sunday night’s Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas are more than just pretty faces. These beauties are just like us, facing phobias, obstacles and sporting some hilarious quirks. Get some fun tidbits, culled from contestants’ online pageant videos, about 11 of the competitors – one of them might just win the crown and face-off for Miss Universe in December!

    For Miss California, model and aspiring doctor Natalie Pack, the best way to de-stress is to jump on her hog.

    “I’ve been going through so much stress in applying to medical school and studying for MCATs, there’s no better way to relieve stress like there is riding a motorcycle in the open sun, especially in California,” Pack, 23, said.

    She doesn’t own a huge Harley, rather she has a Honda — “a little bike,” she explained. She lives near the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. “What better place to own a motorcycle?” said Pack, who wants to become a dermatologist.

    Miss USA / Miss USA
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    Miss Alabama Katherine Webb didn’t always feel very good about what she saw in the mirror.

    “Growing up was not very easy for me,” Webb, 23, said. “I was tall and lanky. On top of that, I had a skin disorder called vitiligo.” The disorder causes loss of pigment that causes white patches.

    “I had a lot of self-confidence and image issues growing up, but over time, I found myself becoming more confident in the way that I looked,” she said. Webb came to believe that being tall wasn’t so bad and she felt better by wearing makeup and using self-tanner.

    While struggled with image issues, she grew tough in a family full of boys. She went hunting, fishing and skeet shooting.

    “I have my own 12-gauge shotgun and that’s one of my favorite things I like to do, Webb said.

    Miss USA / Miss USA
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    Refugee camp to American dream -

    Miss Minnesota Nitaya Panemalaythong is one proud American homeowner.

    Of Laotian descent, the 26-year-old was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after her family fled across the Mekong River on a bamboo raft. Soon after, her family moved to the U.S. and she grew up mostly in Minnesota. Life wasn’t easy, and her parents lacked a permanent home for their nine children.

    “Growing up in this country, with a very large family, there’s so much responsibility — especially for my parents not really having an education,” Panemalaythong said in her online pageant video. “We all had to just really chip in.”

    Panemalaythong’s proudest accomplishment came in 2010, when she and her brother-in-law bought home, where 10 family members now live.

    “I’m so happy because I’m now living the American dream,” she said.

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    Living off the grid -

    Miss Alaska Jessica Kazmierczak, 22, spent most of her childhood in a log cabin, without power or running water in small-town Alaska.

    “I really grew up the true Alaskan way,” she said. “…Growing up without a TV so I missed all the cartoons when I was little, which was kind of a bummer.”

    On the bright side, she and her family never really needed to go to the grocery store, because her mother had a huge garden and her dad was an avid hunter.

    “We had a lot of moose meat, caribou meat ... and we always had vegetables,” she said.

    Although she couldn’t have play time until she weeded two rows in the garden every day and friends didn’t want to come over because they feared they’d be put to work, she has fond memories of her childhood.

    “It was really different, really neat and I appreciate it now looking back,” she explained.

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    She lost 10 pant sizes -

    Miss Delaware Krista Clausen isn’t quite the woman she used to be.

    Feeling unhealthy, Clausen and her family starting working out and cleaning up their diets.

    “One thing led to another and I really got going with it,” the 19-year-old said. “I ended up losing 55 pounds and 10 whole pants sizes.”

    Now Clausen says her dream job is to be a trainer on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” weight-loss show.

    She also has a “dog obsession,” with her yorkie named Bentley. “He’s a person to me,” she says. “I talk to him all the time about everything.”

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    There’s one fear that Miss D.C. Monique Thompkins never outgrew: The 23-year-old has a fear of balloons. “When you’re blowing up a balloon, I’m nowhere around,” Thompkins said. “If you’re tying a balloon, I’m nowhere around. If you’re playing with a balloon, I try to figure out why.”

    Today, Thompkins has fond memories of her childhood. Her mom had her when she was very young, so Thompkins’ father took her to live with her grandmother.

    “I never really noticed that I came from a broken home,” she said. “I never thought of it that way. It was pretty normal for me.”

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    ‘The female Josh Groban’ -

    Miss South Carolina Erika Powell has been singing since the time she could walk.

    “We would have singing time after story time at night on the couch and I would sing ‘Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,’” said Powell, 26.

    Now a singer who had her solo debut at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in 2010, she says she’d love to be seen as “the female Josh Groban.”

    “If I were to define myself as a singer I would say I’m not an opera singer but a singer who’s heavily influenced by opera,” Powell said.

    And with all her talents, she wishes she could do it all.

    “If I could be great at one thing I would be in more than one place at one time,” Powell said. “There are tons of things I wish I could do but they all seem to happen at the exact same time so I wish I could clone myself.”

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    Armed with a bedazzler -

    If you don’t watch out, Miss KansasGentry Miller just might bedazzle you, too.

    Miller loves to craft with rhinestones and “really bedazzle anything I possible can.”

    “I have phone cases covered in rhinestones,” Miller, 24, said. “My dog collar is covered in rhinestones.”

    And when she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Kansas, the top of her mortar board was tricked out with a rhinestone “G.”

    “Really, anything — if it doesn’t move, it’s going to be covered in rhinestones,” she joked.

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    Miss West Virginia Andrea Rogers had an active childhood that unfortunately, wasn’t accident-free.

    When she was about 3, she broke her arm after “jumping off a coffee table trying to fly like Batman.” And on the last sledding run of the day one winter, she flipped over and “busted my two front teeth.”

    She and her sister were always on the move. “My sister and I pretty much ran our neighborhood,” Rogers, 25, said. “We were either outside roller blading or riding our bikes or sled riding in the wintertime.”

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    Horse brain? -

    Miss Ohio Audrey Bolte earned her nickname in the stables.

    Bolte, an equestrienne who began competing at age 6, won an equestrian scholarship to college where she worked with troubled horses.

    “They had behavioral issues, they were troubled, they didn’t ride well,” Bolte, 23, said. “The more I worked with them, the better they became. They became so good that anyone could ride them. So I got called ‘The Fixer’ at my college.”

    Bolte has loved horses since she was a little girl. “One thing that confused my parents just a little bit about me growing up was that I never wanted to play with dolls. I only wanted to play with hoses,” she said. “So they think I was born with a horse brain.”

    Miss USA / Miss USA
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    Got trash? She'll haul it -

    Miss Utah Kendyl Bell looks good even when sitting in a garbage truck, decked out in a neon safety vest and hard hat. Bell, 25, is the community outreach manager for Republic Services, a garbage company.

    “We specialize in garbage and recycling,” Bell said. “We do every aspect of it from pick-up to hauling to disposal. You name it, we do it.

    “We are a one-stop shop for all your garbage needs,” she advertised.

    Miss USA / Miss USA
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