UPDATE: Windsor woman named second runner-up in Miss America pageant (video)
September 19, 2015
Windsor's Kelley Johnson made it all the way to the end Sunday night in her bid to wear the Miss America crown, finishing as the second runner-up. The crown went to Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell. The runner-up was Miss Mississippi, Hannah Roberts.
Johnson's finish netted her a $20,000 scholarship.
Before the pageant, Johnson said she enjoyed most preparing for the interview portion of the competition. On Sunday night, when she made it to the interview, she was asked a question about plans to put a woman on the $10 bill. She said the woman should be Ellen DeGeneres, saying she was kind, intelligent and a spokeswoman for tolerance.
"She's able to be funny without insulting someone, and I think that is an incredible feat," she said.
Another standout moment came during the talent portion. She drew on her personal experience as a nurse. Wearing nursing scrubs, she delivered a heartfelt and emotional monologue about working with a patient who was suffering from Alzheimer's. It drew raucous cheers from the crowd.
A video of Johnson performing the monologue in a preliminary competition was posted on YouTube before the pageant. It garnered a host of positive comments on social media.
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Johnson was crowned Miss Colorado on June 20 in her first pageant win. She was born in Fort Collins and grew up in Windsor. She is the daughter of Julie Johnson Haffner, the executive director of the Banner Health McKee Medical Center Foundation, and stepdaughter of Gene Haffner, director of public relations for Banner Health North Colorado Medical Center. She graduated from Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she was captain of the volleyball team, and she is a registered nurse.
Cantrell rode an opera performance to the title in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall Sunday night. She won a preliminary competition earlier in the week, also with an opera performance.
Preliminary competition in talent, interviews, evening wear and swimsuit competition ran through Thursday.
The pageant also marked the return of Miss America 1984, Vanessa Williams, who was back for the first time after resigning the crown following a nude photo scandal. Pageant Executive Chairman Sam Haskell apologized to Williams on behalf of the pageant.
Contestants from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were vying for the crown. The U.S. Virgin islands, which competed last year, could not field the required minimum number of entrants this year, pageant officials said. It is eligible for future competitions.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.