Miss Oklahoma Jennifer Berry captured the crown of Miss America 2006 on Saturday night (Jan. 21) in Las Vegas. She strolled the runway amid a flurry of confetti and the strains of Bert Parks’ beloved recording of “There She Is.”
And what’s Berry going to do now?
“I’ve been waiting for months to dip some French fries in some great ranch dressing, and I’m going to do it right away,” she told host James Denton during a casual interview late in the show.
Berry is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, majoring in elementary education. A longtime ballet student, she danced to William Joseph’s “Within.” During her interview portion, Denton asked Berry to describe a significant event from her childhood and the impact on shaping her character.
“When I was in sixth grade, I had big huge glasses and frizzy hair and I was about 5-foot-8,” she explained. “I remember being in music class and a little girl came up to me and said, ‘Why did you have that picture taken with those horrid glasses?’ I looked at her, and I was just heart-broken, and I remember going through middle school being heartbroken regarding the fact that she asked me that. And because of that, I learned how to become the woman that I am by accepting the person that I am through everything that I have done. Experiences such as that have shaped me.”
Miss Georgia Monica Pang won first runner-up, followed by Miss Alabama Alexa Jones as second runner-up. Pang and Jones were also asked about their pivotal childhood experiences. Miss Virginia Kristi Lauren Glakas was named third runner-up and Miss District of Columbia Shannon Schambeau was named fourth runner-up. All five of these contestants participated in the talent portion, including dance, singing and piano.
Miss Hawaii Malika Dudley won the title of Miss Congeniality from her peers.
“I’m speechless right now. I love you guys so much. I think this means the reunion’s in Hawaii,” she said through her tears, after being asked by Denton to share something about herself. “I told them all week that I’m going to cry, and here I am, crying again.”
In addition to the five finalists, the semifinalists included Miss Arkansas (Eudora Mosby), Miss Florida (Mari Wilensky), Miss Pennsylvania (Nicole Brewer), Miss South Carolina (Erika Grace Powell) and Miss Texas (Morgan Matlock). All 10 semifinalists competed in the swimsuit and eveningwear competition.
The pageant served as a pinnacle of a full week of activities for all the contestants, including visits to Hollywood and being presented with the keys to the city of Las Vegas.