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Don’t confuse Miss America 2011 with Miss U.S.A. 2011 Published: Monday, June 20, 2011, 2:55 PM Updated: Monday, June 20, 2011, 9:28 PM By John Gonzalez Follow 1 Share Email Print Muskegon Chronicle/Greg Lindstrom Elizabeth Wertenberger reacts as she is crowned Miss Michigan 2011 by the outgoing Miss Michigan, Katie LaRoche, on June 18, 2011 at Frauenthal Theater in Muskegon. It happens all the time: Casual fans think Miss America and Miss U.S.A. are one in the same. I’ll set the record straight: They’re not even close. Yes, it’s true, in both competitions beautiful young women are awarded tiaras, a title, roses and scholarships. And they are judged in evening gown and swimsuit attire, and they answer tough questions in front of a panel of judges. But Sunday night’s Miss U.S.A. competition., which was won by Miss California Alyssa Campanella, is the Donald Trump-owned pageant that is best known for creating controversies. Anyone remember Miss U.S.A. Tara Connor from 2006, who entered rehab because of reported drug and alcohol problems. (Trump allowed her to maintain her title.) And Miss California Carrie Prejean received national attention in 2009 when she told judge/blogger Perez Hilton that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She was first runner-up. Even the outgoing Miss U.S.A. Rima Fakih made her missteps and found herself defending her actions. Shortly after winning her crown, a video surfaced of her competing in a stripper pole contest. And more recently she was investigated for excessive partying and missing interviews. The former Miss Michigan said she has learned a lot from the experience. “I think I’ve grown so much this year. I’m proud to say that I am giving up my crown on June 19 and I still have the crown,” Fakih told “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts. Miss U.S.A., which debuted in 1952, is a qualifier for Miss Universe. As for Miss America, this is the show we all know and love from Bert Parks days. It debuted in 1921 and now is best known for its scholarships. On Saturday, a new Miss Michigan was crowned (Elizabeth Wertenberger). She will represent the Great Lakes State at Miss America. The last Miss Michigan to win the crown was Kirsten Haglund in 2008. Amway is a major sponsor of the contest and regularly brings Miss America to the Grand Rapids area. As for the differences, here is what Miss America posts as an FAQ on its website: Is the Miss America program different than Miss USA? Yes. In 1952, Catalina Swimsuits founded the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants as product promotion tools. Developed by the Miss America Organization, the Miss America program exists to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community. Almost all contestants have either received, or are in the process of earning college or postgraduate degrees and utilize Miss America scholarship grants to further their educations. The Miss America Organization is the leading provider of scholarships for young women in the world. Although some young women compete in both Miss America and Miss USA, the two systems are completely separate.
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