- Associated Press - Saturday, January 15, 2011

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Just 15 contestants remain in the hunt for a $50,000 scholarship and a sparkly tiara at the 2011 Miss America pageant in Las Vegas.

Pageant host Chris Harrison announced most of the finalists on Saturday night, but co-host Brooke Burke told the remaining contestants that they’d also get to pick two.

Judges picked: Miss Oklahoma Emoly West, Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan, Miss Texas Ashley Melnick, Miss Rhode Island Deborah Saint-Vil, Miss Utah Christina Lowe, Miss Washington Jacquie Brown, Miss Arizona Kathryn Bulkley, Miss Hawaii Jalee Fuselier, Miss Virginia Caitlin Uze, Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady and Miss California Arianna Afsar.

Fans voted in Miss New York Claire Buffie and Miss Delaware Kayla Martell.

The young women picked Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent and Miss Oregon Stephenie Denise Steers.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A group of 53 beauty queens from all over the United States has begun a final pageant to determine the next Miss America.

The contestants _ from every state plus the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Puerot Rico _ danced up the aisles Saturday night at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas while wearing silver cocktail dresses.

After dancing to Taio Cruz’ “Dynamite,” each contestant introduced themselves to the crowd.

Miss Arizona Kathryn Bulkley dedicated her performance to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head last week in Tuscon.

The girls are competing for scholarship money and a top prize of $50,000 plus the title. The pageant is celebrating its 90th year.

The competition includes swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview portions.