Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012 | 2:01 a.m.
2012 Miss America Pageant
Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler hopes to one day work as a licensed speech pathologist.
So here is where we enunciate, “Her odds are 6-1.”
Those are Wynn Las Vegas Director of Race and Sports Operations Johnny Avello’s field-leading numbers for Kaeppeler to win Saturday night’s Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood's Theater for the Performing Arts (the live show is at 6 p.m. and airs, tape delayed, at 9 p.m. ABC).
Avello says Kaeppeler’s odds are based largely on her superior talent and physical beauty. Kaeppeler won the talent segment of Tuesday night’s preliminary round with her rendition of “Il Bacio.”
“She sang that song flawlessly and is a really pretty girl,” Avello said during a phone interview Friday afternoon. “I went through her profile online and was impressed, and I always look at how the contestants present themselves, their physical features, their preliminary results, and if they’ve won or have been nominated for the Quality of Life Awards. Those all factor in.”
Avello says any of his half-dozen picks could easily be the favorite. Each won a preliminary-round competition. The Yoda-esque oddsmaker has Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson (who won Wednesday’s preliminary talent round with an Irish step-dancing number) at 8-1. Miss Texas Kendall Morris (who won Tuesday’s swimsuit competition) is at 9-1. Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape (who skipped her way into our hearts with a jump-rope routine to the theme of “Hawaii 5-0” to win Thursday’s talent competition) is 10-1. Miss Utah Danica Olsen (who won Wednesday’s swimsuit competition) is at 10-1 Miss New York Kaitlin Monte (who won Thursday’s swimsuit competition) is at 15-1.
A march to the tiara for Miss Nevada Alana Lee would be a significant upset, according to Avello’s numbers. She’s set at 75-1. Lee, whose talent is singing, has addressed the Planet Hollywood audience by calling out, “When you sin, we win!”
That is in reference to Nevada. But there shall be no wagering on the pageant, at least in the Wynn sports book. Avello’s pageant odds are posted purely for entertainment purposes. This edict does not cover personal wagers.
Avello is on a hot streak in pageant prognostication. For the Miss USA Pageant in June, he set Miss California Alyssa Campanella as the field favorite at 8-1. And danged if she didn’t win.
But USA is a pageant that tilts heavily toward physical appearance, while the Miss America Pageant — which officials always stress is a scholarship contest — relies more on contestants’ talent and answers to interview questions.
“Miss America is tougher,” Avello said. “I try to base everything on what I see each year. I don’t look at what state you’re from. It’s all about who you are.”