Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson, named first runner-up in the Miss America 2012 pageant, captured fans' attention even before the contestants lined up on stage Saturday night at Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas.
Thompson was voted America's Choice semifinalist, chosen from fans online, and she was the first of 15 contestants named to move forward.
Even before that big announcement, she won the talent competition during Wednesday night's preliminary judging.
An accomplished Irish Step dancer, Thompson performed the spirited number again to the song “Warriors” during the live presentation.
Laura Kaeppeler, Miss Wisconsin, was named Miss America.
Thompson, a petite brunette, is a senior elementary education major at Oklahoma State University.
“Oklahoma should be very, very proud,” said Johnathan Kayne Gillaspie, an Oklahoma City designer who created both her talent costume and evening gown.
“I've been working with Betty, dressing her for the past three years, and she's always been a pleasure,” he said, describing Thompson as a beautiful young lady inside and out.
“She's warm and inviting, and I don't think that Oklahoma could be more proud to have a Miss Oklahoma coming back than Betty,” he said. “She's always very positive and focused on what she needs to do ... to be a smart, beautiful young lady and a role model for other girls.”
Title holders offer support
Several Oklahoma local title holders who will be competing in the Miss Oklahoma pageant in June were in the audience to support Thompson.
Sarah White, Miss Greater Oklahoma and a sophomore at Oklahoma City University, was sitting with some of the Oklahoma delegation.
She said they were on the edge of their seats, especially when Thompson was named in the top five.
“We were literally grabbing the seats in front us. ... We could not be prouder and Betty just radiated on stage. Even though she's only like 5 feet 2 or so, her personality is so big.”
As first runner-up, Thompson earned a $25,000 scholarship.
Platform promotes milk
Thompson's personal platform is “Milk, It Really Does a Body Good.”
When asked if the government should step into help prevent childhood obesity, Thompson said she thinks it is the parents' responsibility to teach their children how to eat.
Thompson grew up on a small dairy farm near Davenport and her platform is inspired by that experience and a desire to keep children healthy and eating right.
Miss Oklahoma's fans seemed to grow as the night continued and other contestants were eliminated.
White said she was carrying a Go Betty sign after the pageant and many people told her how much they loved Thompson and were cheering for her.