LAS VEGAS — Jill Stevens, representing Utah in the Miss America pageant, was named the America's Choice candidate, automatically placing her among the 16 finalists of the pageant, under way this evening in Las Vegas.

This year is the first time a candidate has been chosen at large by votes online at

Stevens' supporters organized a campaign to support her online.

Further eliminations will take place through the evening, culminating with the crowning of Miss America 2008, about 8 p.m. MST. — Joseph M. Dougherty