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Miss Wisconsin crowned Miss America in Las Vegas

Eric Jamison / AP

Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler smiles after being crowned Miss America, Jan. 14, at The Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

In dazzling gowns and sexy bikinis, 53 contestants competed for the pageant's coveted crown.

AP reports:

Laura Kaeppeler won the pageant Saturday night after strutting in a white bikini and black beaded evening gown, singing opera and answering a question about whether beauty queens should declare their politics by saying Miss America represents everyone.

"Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well," Kaeppeler said. "And so in these economic times, we need to be looking forward to what America needs, and I think Miss America needs to represent all."

Full story: Wisconsinite wins 2012 Miss America crown