New Miss America: Miss Wisconsin
Opera-singing Laura Kaeppeler nabs 2012 crown
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2012 8:23 AM CST
Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler reacts after being crowned Miss America Saturday Jan. 14, 2012 at The Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)

(Newser) – Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler sang opera, wise-cracked, spoke candidly about being the child of a convict, and refused to get drawn into politics en route to grabbing the 2012 Miss America crown last night. Kaeppeler, when asked if beauty queens should bare their politics, responded: "Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well. 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."

Kaeppeler beat out second-place Miss Oklahoma, Betty Thompson, and third-place Miss New York, Kaitlyn Monte, for the $50,000 scholarship, reports the AP. Her platform of mentoring the children of jailed parents came from her father's 18-month stint in prison for mail fraud. "It taught us that God can turn everything into good if you let him," said Jeff Kaeppeler after the contest. His daughter, 23, in introducing herself jokingly told the Green Bay Packers quarterback, "If you're watching, Aaron Rodgers, call me."