While Theresa Vail didn't become the 2014 Miss America — the crown went to Nina Davuluri from New York this year — the tattoo-wearing, bowhunting, M16-shooting National Guard soldier made it all the way into the top-10 group of semifinalists Sunday night.
Miss Kansas Theresa Vail, left, reacts after advancing beyond the lifestyle competition as Miss Kentucky Jenna Day, right, holds her hand during the Miss America 2014 pageant, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Atlantic City, N.J. (Credit: AP)
Vail stood with other semifinalists from Oklahoma, New York, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota, Maryland, and Florida.
Miss Kansas was a hit with readers of TheBlaze over the last week after they learned about her background, patriotism, and skills not typically associated with a beauty pageant contestant.
She’s also a skydiver, boxer, and a mechanic (or “grease monkey,” as she notes in her pageant video). A People magazine profile notes that she had to cease motorcycle racing after breaking all the fingers in her right hand, but Vail can still skin a deer and possesses a fab squirrel stew recipe.
Miss America 2014 contestant Miss Kansas Theresa Vail appears in the 2014 Miss America Competition Parade at Boardwalk Hall Arena on September 14, 2013 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Credit: Getty Images)
What turned many heads in the 22-year-old’s direction was what revealed in the swimsuit competition — and that again burst stereotypes.
Miss Kansas Theresa Vail shows her bathing suit during the lifestyle competition during the Miss America 2014 pageant, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Atlantic City, N.J. (Credit: AP)
"I remember just asking God, praying for peace and for the things I couldn’t change that I was being made fun of for and more to grant me the courage to stand up for myself,” Vail told the Daily Beast.
“So when I was old enough and I was thinking, hey, I want to share my story and let people know you can overcome anything. That’s when I decided I wanted to get a tattoo of it—to remind me of my past and guide me through my future."
Vail entered her first competition just nine months ago on the advice of her commanding officer. But when she was told she wouldn’t be able to use archery as her talent, she had to pick another performance focus…and quick.
So chose to sing opera, Fox News notes. “I’d never sung opera in my life,” Vail said.
But 48 hours later she had mastered a Pavarotti piece she found on YouTube and won the Miss Kansas talent competition.
You can read more about Vail in TheBlaze here.
Here's a low-key, candid interview with Vail that took place during pageant week: