LAS VEGAS - A woman with ties to Cabarrus County has been crowned Miss USA -- the second time in four years that a Charlotte-area entrant has won the crown. KRISTEN DALTON, the reigning Miss North Carolina USA, was crowned Miss USA 2009, beating out 50 other pageant queens in the event televised live from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Dalton, who advances to the Miss Universe Pageant later this year in the Bahamas, is a former Cabarrus County resident.
She attended Winecoff Elementary School and then was a student briefly at Northwest Cabarrus Middle School about 10 years ago, before the family moved to the Wilmington area.
Dalton's family is experienced at winning pageants and being in the spotlight.
Jeannie Boger, Miss North Carolina USA 1982 (Mother of Kristen Dalton)
Julia Dalton, Miss North Carolina Teen USA 2008 (Sister of Kristen Dalton)
Her mother, Jeannie Boger, was the 1982 Miss North Carolina USA. Kristen's younger sister, Julia, won the Miss North Carolina Teen USA event last year and was second runner-up nationally. And Kristen's other sister, Kenzie, was a first runner-up in the 2006 Miss North Carolina Teen USA pageant. She later became engaged to actor Chad Michael Murray.
Dalton's was a flowing, blue Grecian number that stood out among a series of white gowns.
Her title comes with a year's use of a New York apartment, a public relations team, a two-year scholarship at the New York Film Academy and an undisclosed salary.
She also will go to the Bahamas in August to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, where American beauties haven't been lucky in recent years. Both Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart and her predecessor, Rachel Smith, wiped out on stage during the evening gown competition, becoming accidental YouTube stars.
Organizers said Sunday's show kicks off "Green Week" at NBC. As part of the environmental awareness campaign, the Miss USA crown was designed by a jeweler that specializes in conflict-free and eco-friendly jewels. The crown from Diamond Nexus Labs of Franklin, Wis., is worth $202,000
The New MISS USA 2009 Crown