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January 22, 2018

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2013 Miss America Pageant preview: Hosts, judges and an emotional journey


Tom Donoghue/

Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue’s best, favorite and most memorable photographs of 2012. 2012 Miss America Pageant contestants, including winner Laura Kaeppeler of Wisconsin, right, are pictured here.

2012 Miss America Pageant: The Big Night

The 2012 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, with the crowning of Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler, 23, of Kenosha as the new Miss America. Launch slideshow »

2012 Miss America Pageant: Crowning Moments

Crowning moments of the 2012 Miss America Pageant for new Miss America Laura Kaeppeler of Kenosha, Wisc., at Planet Hollywood on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. Launch slideshow »

For the eighth consecutive year, 53 of America’s most beautiful and talented young women will arrive here today for 10 days of intense competition that winds up with the live ABC telecast of the 92nd Miss America Pageant on Saturday, Jan. 12.

It also will be the third consecutive year that “Dancing With the Stars” champion, co-host and beauty Brooke Burke-Charvet and “The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison will lead the broadcast together -- and introduce the newly crowned 2013 Miss America.

As always, Vegas DeLuxe has a full inside preview. A panel of seven judges -- including this year Indiana’s first Miss America, Katie Stam Irk, who won in 2009 -- will choose the next Miss America.

The other judges are designer Bradley Bayou, who is a member of Oprah Winfrey’s “Glam Squad”; award-winning dancer and choreographer Cheryl Burke from “DWTS”; “Good Morning America” broadcaster Sam Champion; my longtime pal Mary Hart from the early days we worked together at “Entertainment Tonight” (and 1970 Miss South Dakota); Shark Tank entrepreneur Daymond John; and 2012 London Olympic gymnastics champion McKayla Maroney.

Today at 4 p.m. at Planet Hollywood, our Miss Nevada Randi Sundquist, a UNLV media and journalism student, anchors the parade of princesses who will be officially welcomed to the city by Quad headline entertainer and juggler Jeff Civillico. Expect physical humor, zany stunts and juggling with the hopefuls.

Producer Anthony Eaton will again mastermind the Jan. 12 broadcast and promises surprises yet again to follow last year’s record ratings.

“Our 2012 telecast from Las Vegas was a tremendous success and took the ratings crown as the most-watched non-sports program,” said Sam Haskell, Miss America board chairman. “In our success rebranding Miss America, we have attracted a new audience. We are working to make the 2013 broadcast event even more memorable for viewers.”

The Miss America Organization is the world’s largest provider of scholarships for young women. Unlike Miss USA and Miss Universe also held here by Donald Trump’s organization, Miss America is not solely about glamour and shapely figures; it also combines talent with health and fitness, charity and interviews.

It’s expected that Allyn Rose representing the District of Columbia will be under tremendous media scrutiny in the next week as a front-runner certain to make the Top 10. The 24-year-old blonde stunner lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 16. She has partnered with organizations to raise more than $500,000 for Breast Cancer Research and Education.

Allyn Rose

Allyn has said that if she wins the pageant, she will delay a double mastectomy for one year to fulfill pageant’s duties. If she does not win, she will return to undergo surgery to prevent the high risk of breast cancer that has caused the deaths of family members. She shared her emotional and moving journey with Katie Couric.

Here’s the Royal Robin Rundown of Miss America in town:


Official welcome at 4 p.m. at Planet Hollywood with regional President David Hoenemeyer and our Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.


The 53 contestants enjoy an evening as Terry Fator’s guests at his headliner show in the Mirage. It’s anybody’s guess as to which contestant is brought onstage to sing along with his ventriloquist dolls.


All 53 contestants walk the runway at Fashion Show mall and sign autographs at a meet-and-greet with fans afterward. They’ll then go to Robert Earl’s Buca di Beppo for a celebration dinner.

Engaged: Brian Irk & Katie Stam

Brian Irk proposed to his girlfriend of four years, 2009 Miss America Katie Stam, at the Evening of Dreams gala in Planet Hollywood on Jan. 29, 2010. Katie said yes. Launch slideshow »

Miss America: Indiana's Katie Stam

Miss Indiana, Katie Stam, just after she was announced 2009 Miss America  at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas Saturday night. Launch slideshow »

The weekend brings intense rehearsals and dance workouts -- and the start of judges’ interrogations.


Comedienne Dena Blizzard, a married mom of three who once represented New Jersey in the pageant and has been a comedy sidekick of Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen at The Food Network, hosts the first preliminary competition at 8 p.m. in PH Live.


I’ll get to turn the tables on the celebrity judges and grill them. The second preliminary competition with Dena hosting again is at PH Live.


2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler will be joined by 27 Miss America winners to announce the Quality of Life scholarship and Fourpoints Award winners. Our interview with Laura looking back on her year’s reign was posted on Christmas Eve.

Laura and Las Vegas resident 1971 Miss New Jersey Lynn Hackerman Weidner host the annual scholarship luncheon with 2013 Miss America Outstanding Teen Rachel Wyatt at Vintner Grill in Summerlin.

2012 Miss America at Super Bowl XLVI Taste of the NFL

2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler at Super Bowl XLVI's Taste of the NFL in Indianapolis on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. Launch slideshow »


I’ll chat with co-hosts Brooke and Chris and once again try to squeeze out as many secrets as possible from producers Anthony and Lauren Eaton.


We’ll have Twitter and Las Vegas Sun blog reports from the theater starting at 5 p.m. PT for the live East Coast transmission. Immediately after the new Miss America is crowned, I’ll chat with her, and we’ll have that conversation, photos and videos on Sunday, Jan. 13.

Incidentally, at the same time the Miss America beauties are here, it’s the “America’s Man of the Year” competition at the Clarion Hotel Casino. The pageants are not affiliated, but the guys work the runway in the same competitions of formal wear, swimwear, talent and judges interviews. “It’s all about having fun and providing an outlet for young men,” contest director Ed Smith said. “We think this could be the start of something new and exciting for young men across America.”

Be sure to check back often for the latest photo, video and news reports of the continuing Miss America activities.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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