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Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron crowned Miss America

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Steve Marcus

Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron reacts as she is crowned Miss America by 2009 Miss America Katie Stam during the 2010 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Jan. 30, 2009. Host Mario Lopez, left, and special correspondent Clinton Kelly look on.

Updated Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 | 8:43 p.m.

2010 Miss America Crowned

Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron is crowned 2010 Miss America at Planet Hollywood.

2010 Miss America Caressa Cameron

Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron reacts as she is crowned by 2009 Miss America Katie Stam during the 2010 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood. Host Mario Lopez, left, looks on. Launch slideshow »
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Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron and Miss Puerto Rico Mimi Pabon at the 2010 Miss America Pageant preliminary competition at Planet Hollywood on Jan. 26, 2010.

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Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron sings during the Talent portion of the 2010 Miss America Pageant preliminary competition at Planet Hollywood on Jan. 26, 2010. Cameron was crowned the 2010 Miss America.

Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron has won the 2010 Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood. She won after wearing a yellow gown for Evening Wear, singing Beyonce’s “Listen” from “Dreamgirls” in the Talent competition and advising kids that they should do more outdoor activities to combat obesity.

Cameron, 22, who wins a $50,000 scholarship, is a broadcast journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University and hopes to become an anchor.

The first runner-up was Miss California Kristy Cavinder.

Miss Nevada Christina Keegan was not among the evening's 15 semifinalists.

When asked during the interview portion of the competition her thoughts on fighting childhood obesity, Cameron said parents should curb television and video games.

"We need to get our kids back outside, playing with sticks in the street like I did when I was little," she said. "Expand your mind, go outside and get to see what this world is like."

Cameron said her win was a testament to her family's strength.

"You can be and become anything that you want to be, even Miss America," she said.

The young women who came out on stage at the beginning of the pageant and danced to "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas are from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

After a week of preliminary competition, they each introduced themselves to the crowd Saturday.

"From the home of the Governator, I am here to pump you up," Cavinder said as she was introduced.

The judges, the public and contestants themselves then trimmed the field over the next two hours.

Actor and "Extra" host Mario Lopez hosted the 89-year-old pageant with help from Clinton Kelly of TLC's "What Not to Wear." The pageant was broadcast live on TLC.

The panel of judges included radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, actress Vivica Fox, musician Dave Koz, Miss America 2002 Katie Harman, gymnast Shawn Johnson and former "American Idol" finalist Brooke White. Comedian Paul Rodriguez was set to be a judge, but organizers said he pulled out because of a family emergency.

Cameron, crowned by 2009 Miss America Katie Stam, will embark on a yearlong run with the title to represent the organization and raise awareness for her chosen platform.

Cameron, Cavinder and Miss Michigan Nicole Blaszczyk each won $2,000 earlier in the week for winning talent competitions among three split fields of contestants. Miss Oregon CC Barber, Miss New York Alyse Zwick and Miss Puerto Rico Mimi Pabon each won $1,000 in nightly swimsuit competitions.

Miss Oklahoma Taylor Treat won the $6,000 Quality of Life award, given to the contestant judged to excel most in volunteerism and community service.

Scores based on a week of preliminary competitions were added to Saturday's competitions to determine the winner. Each judge ranked their five favorites in order, and their ballots were used to pick the winner.

In all, the Miss America Organization awarded $340,000 in scholarships at the national level. The organization says its national, state and local chapters gave more than $45 million last year in cash and scholarships.

The pageant was preceded by a one-hour television special on TLC, "Miss America: Behind the Curtain."

The contestants picked 12 women from their own ranks who faced a public vote for one of three spots among the 15 finalists. Stam, a Seymour, Ind., native, was one of four finalists chosen by viewers last year.

The crowning of a Miss America began in 1921 as a publicity stunt to persuade tourists on Atlantic City's Boardwalk to stick around after Labor Day.

The bathing revue blossomed in the age of television into an American pop icon before fading in later years and losing it place on network TV in 2004. It moved to the Las Vegas Strip in 2006 in an attempt to reinvent itself and has found a home on cable television.

• • •

Mr. Vegas DeLuxe Robin Leach tweeted from the 2010 Miss America Pageant in the Theater for the Performing Arts in Planet Hollywood:

4:50 p.m.: Ten minutes to show time. The Theater for Performing Arts is fully sold out. The doors are being closed. Six judges just arrived in black tie. All the former Miss Americas have been introduced.

4:58 p.m.: The 89th Miss America Pageant is a go, and Mario Lopez is set to bring on all 53 contestants for the opening parade number. Great crowd screams.

5:07 p.m.: The show is on. I am in the second row right behind the judges, so you will get full live coverage.

5:07 p.m.: By volume of shouting, Miss Oklahoma looks to be a favorite.

5:10 p.m.: Wisconsin another heavy crowd favorite. Opening number is over. Mario starts the show with Clinton Kelly, who will rove backstage.

5:12 p.m.: First commercial. When we return, “America’s Choice” contestants.

5:16 p.m.: Field narrows with Miss Oklahoma, Miss Arkansas and Miss Kentucky picked from viewer votes. They will join 12 from the judges. Gretchen Carlson interviews the judges.

5:20 p.m.: Rush Limbaugh says he’s voting for confidence in the next Miss America.

5:22 p.m.: Clinton reveals the curveball: The hopefuls will choose one semifinalist!

5:26 p.m.: The next 11 semifinalists are Miss Tennessee, Miss Colorado, Miss California, Miss Indiana, Miss Hawaii, Miss Louisiana, Miss District of Columbia, Miss New Mexico, Miss Virginia, Miss Texas and Miss Nebraska.

5:30 p.m.: The remaining contestants vote for the 15th semifinalist.

5:32 p.m.: First time ever in any beauty pageant one girl chosen from those remaining. Who? The reveal is after the commercial.

5:36 p.m.: Mario introduces the 2009 Miss America Katie Stam to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.”

5:38 p.m.: Mario reveals the 15th semifinalist surprise chosen by the remaining girls. Congrats to Miss Oregon.

5:39 p.m.: Katie, who got engaged last night, onstage introduces her new fiance Brian Irk in the audience. Miss Oregon is in shock and crying. Swimsuits next!

5:40 p.m.: Miss Oregon has 120 seconds to rip off dress and slip into swimsuit. She had better move fast. She made it. Three girls eliminated after commercial.

5:49 p.m.: Mario announces the 12 women going on to Evening Wear: Miss Oklahoma, Miss Louisiana, Miss Hawaii, Miss Nebraska, Miss Virginia, Miss New Mexico, Miss Colorado, Miss District of Columbia, Miss Tennessee, Miss Kentucky, Miss Texas and Miss California.

5:51 p.m.: The 12 girls are changing in a tent backstage. Hairspray flying!

5:54 p.m.: Short of the judges, the first girl almost tumbled down steps in her ball gown. Girls are in their gowns and looking gorgeous.

5:58 p.m.: My first prediction: It will come down to Louisiana and Oklahoma.

6 p.m.: Two to be cut now. Only 10 will return for talent portion of the contest. Clinton interviews contestants onstage no longer competing.

6:06 p.m.: Top 10 will be announced and perform one at a time. First up for 90 seconds apiece is Miss California with ballet en pointe.

6:08 p.m.: Miss Virginia sings Beyonce’s “Listen” from “Dreamgirls.” She outrocks with phenomenal rendition.

6:10 p.m.: Miss District of Columbia sings aria from Puccini. She wows the crowd.

6:12 p.m.: Miss New Mexico sings “Somewhere” from “West Side Story.”

6:14 p.m.: Miss Louisiana plays the piano. No announcement of what she was doing. It’s “Hallelujah” from Handel.

6:20 p.m.: About 30 minutes to a new Miss America. On we roll -- halfway point of Talent.

6:22 p.m.: Sixth performance is Miss Nebraska in a jazz dance number from “Legally Blonde.”

6:24 p.m.: Two of the six girls remaining onstage next to be cut. Miss Tennessee sings “I Will Always Love You,” exceeding Whitney Houston’s power.

6:26 p.m.: Miss Texas sings a Puccini aria.

6:28 p.m.: Miss Kentucky sings “On My Own” from “Les Miserables.”

6:30 p.m.: Final performer is Miss Hawaii doing a slow hula dance. Two go: Miss Colorado and Miss Oklahoma.

6:33 p.m.: Miss Oklahoma and Miss Colorado eliminated. Clinton walks them to join 41 others. HBO taping reality show with PH Towers Westgate mogul David Siegel and his wife.

6:38 p.m.: Most nerve-wracking part of pageant upcoming. The dreaded judge’s question. Mario’s mom gets a shout-out from the stage. Three girls cut.

6:39 p.m.: Miss California gets first question. Do we have the right to expect celebrities to be positive role models?

6:40 p.m.: Miss New Mexico: Should foreign languages be emphasized in our schools?

6:41 p.m.: Miss Virginia: What should be done to get our obese teens back on track?

6:42 p.m.: Miss Hawaii: Are Internet social networks good for young kids?

6:43 p.m.: Miss Tennessee: Tough love or being gentle?

6:45 p.m.: Miss Louisiana: Why we should send money abroad when we face so many issues at home?

6:46 p.m.: Miss Kentucky: Should athletes use drugs be banned for life?

6:47 p.m.: We are at final seven. Runway being positioned. Four runners-up to be named. That will leave three girls onstage. One of them will be new Miss America.

6:52 p.m.: 2009 Miss America Katie Stam makes her last appearance as Miss America.

6:55 p.m.: Fourth runner-up is Miss Kentucky Mallory Ervin. Third runner-up is Miss Louisiana Katherine Putnam. Second runner-up is Miss Tennessee Stephanie Wittler. First-runner up is Miss California Kristy Cavinder. The new Miss America is Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.