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Miss Indiana Katie Stam was crowned Miss America 2009 last night at the Planet Hollywood Resort amp; Casino in Las Vegas. Despite being stricken with a throat infection and laryngitis, Ms. Stam triumphed over 51 other stunning beauties who were also vying for the crown. The first runner-up was Miss Georgia Chasity Hardman. Last night's broadcast added an unprecedented element to the Miss America pageant. Viewers of the lead-in reality show, "Miss America: Countdown to the Crown" voted in four of the 15 finalists (the judges announced the other 11 during the television broadcast).

The four finalists chosen by viewers were winner Katie Stam, first runner-up Chastity Hardman, Miss South Dakota Alexandra Hoffman and Miss Alabama Amanda Tapley. As is customary, the contestants competed in talent, evening gown and swimsuit competitions (the most hotly-anticipated competition of all). You can see a picture of Miss America Katie Stam strutting in a bikini here. "That beauty that you feel on the inside, it's that confidence, that radiance inside of you, that's what glamor is," said Katie Stam during the interview portion of the show when discussing the definition of glamor.

She also condemned the use of performance-enhancing drugs among professional athletes. Katie Stam, who is 22-years-old and hails from Seymour, Indiana, is pursuing a Communication degree at the University of Indianapolis. She hopes to become a television news reporter, and, ultimately, an anchor. In addition to winning the Miss America crown, Katie also received a $50,000 educational scholarship. As well, Katie Stam will now embark on a year of public appearances all across the country.

Miss America 2009 Katie Stam is the first Miss America from Indiana Katie Stam is the first ever Miss America from the great state of Indiana. Surprised? Well, you may also be surprised to learn that the following states have never produced a Miss America: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virgin Islands (a territory of the United States), Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The lovely Katie Stam, however, has proven that there is a first time for everything. And recent events in American politics attest to the fact that change happens. If America can elect an African American president, then surely one day a young woman from, say, Vermont, can become Miss America. Keep hope alive. Sources: 22-year-old Miss Indiana crowned Miss America, The Associated Press, January 25, 2009 Miss America Winners by State, Wikipedia