Newly crowned Miss America Gretchen Elizabeth Carlson, a Minnesota car dealer's daughter whose brothers once called her "blimpo," is a sushi-loving Swedish-American who hopes to be a corporate attorney.
The confident new Miss America 1989 says chance didn't figure into her win."This wasn't luck," she said just hours after her crowning in this seaside resort's Convention Center early Sunday, adding that she didn't bring any good-luck charms to the 62nd Miss America Pageant.
The 22-year-old woman from the Minneapolis suburb of Anoka said her own skills brought her the crown. After winning a preliminary talent competition earlier in the week, Miss Minnesota said parts of her performance were "exquisite."
Carlson performed a spirited violin solo titled "Gypsy Airs." She has studied violin for 17 years, winning national and state violin competitions and performing a solo with the Minnesota Orchestra.
"I'm definitely an overachiever," she said.
This year, pageant officials took special pains to emphasize that the judges were looking for an "articulate, educated, dynamic role model" and not just a beauty queen.
Carlson is several credits away from graduating from Stanford University with a degree in organizational behavior. She says she wants to attend Harvard Law School "and become a successful corporate executive."
But for the next year, Carlson will tour the country promoting the Miss America scholarship program. She also will push the products of the pageant's corporate sponsors, including underwear, orange juice, pantyhose and hair coloring.
Last year's Miss America, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, also used her reign to promote nursing.
Carlson said she wants to focus on "education for the children of tomorrow." Specifically, she wants to see children receive more education on values, "teaching children to be less narcissistic."
"Today children tend to be more in love with themselves instead of being in love with other people," said Carlson.