America Junior Miss Group
Lindsey Brinton, center, of Salt Lake City, is congratulated by other contestants after she won the America Junior Miss Pageant Saturday.

A family legacy came to its ultimate conclusion Saturday night in Mobile, Ala., when 18-year-old West High graduate Lindsey Brinton was crowned the 2008 America Junior Miss.

Brinton follows two older sisters and her mother in competing in the Junior Miss pageant and will take home more than $54,000 in scholarship funds from the final event.

Reached by phone Sunday, the newly crowned Utahn was still buzzing from the victory.

"It's absolutely incredible," Brinton said. "I'm feeling wonderful, and I'm sure it's the first day of an amazing year."

Brinton, who advanced to the final by winning a local competition in Salt Lake City and then taking the Junior Miss Utah title, beat out competitors from all 50 states to win the crown. On her way, she achieved wins in the preliminary categories of scholastics, fitness, talent and interview. Brinton returns to Utah today and will begin her official duties as America Junior Miss with a New York media tour beginning on July 6, which may include an appearance on "Good Morning America." Brinton said her involvement with the competition had changed her life.

"Junior Miss has really helped me develop as a person," Brinton said. "You need to be fit, healthy and smart. ... It's really about brains, inner beauty and service to others."

Brinton's mother, Sally Brinton, said her daughter got a surprise just moments after she was crowned.

"Within two minutes of Lindsey being announced (as the winner), my phone rang and Mary Kaye Huntsman was on the phone and told me the governor wanted to speak with the new Junior Miss," Sally Brinton said. "I handed the phone to Lindsey, and her first official call was congratulations from the governor."

Brinton will balance her new responsibilities as America Junior Miss, making appearances and promoting the group's "Be Your Best Self" program, with a fall enrollment at Harvard University where she plans to study biochemical engineering. Brinton will join sister Stephanie — currently a Harvard student — who was the 2006 Junior Miss Utah and made it to the final eight competitors in Mobile that year. Another sister, Jessica, was a previous Junior Miss Utah runner-up, and mom Sally competed locally when she was a high-school senior — though she wouldn't divulge when that was.

As for her reign as 2008 America Junior Miss, Brinton is excited about a year of service.

"To give to other people and be a role model for young women," Brinton said. "That's what I'm looking forward to."

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