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During the nationally televised pageant, Miss Scanlan answered a question about WikiLeaks by saying the United States should focus on security first.

“You know, when it came to that situation, it was actually based on espionage, and when it comes to the security of our nation, we have to focus on security first and then people’s right to know, because it’s so important that everybody who’s in our borders is safe, and so we can’t let things like that happen, and they must be handled properly,” she said.

Miss Scanlan said the question was easier for her than a generic one, because she has routinely discussed current events with her family since she was young.

The contestants started the show by dancing up the aisles while wearing silver cocktail dresses.

A panel of seven judges eyed them for looks and fitness. The competition included evening gown, talent and interview portions, with eliminations for 15 finalists, then 12, then 10, five and finally the winner.

The judges picked the three top finishers plus Miss Oklahoma Emoly West; Miss Texas Ashley Melnick; Miss Rhode Island Deborah Saint-Vil; Miss Utah Christina Lowe; Miss Washington Jacquie Brown; Miss Arizona Kathryn Bulkley; Miss Virginia Caitlin Uze, and Miss California Arianna Afsar.

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

And in a first-ever twist for the contest, the young women picked two finalists themselves, Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent and Miss Oregon Stephenie Denise Steers.

In her introduction to the audience, Miss Bulkley dedicated her performance to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head last week in Tucson. Miss Bulkley called Giffords her mentor.

The Miss America Organization bills itself as the country’s largest scholarship provider for women, with $349,000 in prizes given this year at the national level.