When the stakes are high, and pageant producers have a lot of pressure on them on ratings, it’s always a point that celebrity judges are a part of the pageant. Seven celebs determined the 2008 winner.
The 2008 Miss America Pageant, which was held at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, had just that. Speaking of competition, one celebrity judge, Jack Joyner Kersey now working in the field of community service, is considered one of the great athletes of all time. She is the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic Gold Medals in the seven disciplined events heptathlons.
She is also the first woman to score 7,000 points in the event, and her world record of 7,291 points remains unbroken. She is also the first American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the long jump, all accomplished on her way to wining six golds in four consecutive Olympic games.
It is those persistent, yet talented, individuals, such as Joyner-Kersey, who make the world renowned pageant, such as Miss America, one of the most respected pageants in the Universe. Kersey, who is giving back to her community by spearheading fundraising efforts, has collected more than $12 million to build a safe haven for young people. The JJK Center in East St. Louis, Ill., provides services the thousands of families in the surrounding areas. It offers a variety of educational and recreational activities, including tutoring, youth sports leagues, nutrition, health education, character-leader workshops and fitness for seniors. The famed athlete currently travels as a motivational speaker and the author of, “A Woman’s Place is Everywhere,” and her autobiography, “A Kind of Grace.”
“No matter what you do in life, it’s the persistence that’s going to get you there,” Joyner Kersey said in press conference at the recent event.
Robin Meade, one of the other judges, is the lead news anchor for CNN’s “Headline News” early morning segment is another outstanding personality. She also serves as co-host with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for Turner’s closed-circuit network, Accent Health, which delivers consumer-related health programming directly to physicians’ waiting rooms.
Meade competed in the Miss America Pageant 1992. She is the recipient of two regional Emmy Awards and in 2005 was inducted into the Ohio Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
From the field of talent, Jason La Padura, is a casting executive behind Disney Channel’s phenomena, “High School Musical.” He is currently casting NBC’s hit ‘Heroes,” and CBC’s “Cane.” La Padura received the Media Access award from the State of California for his work promoting the profile of performers with disability. He was nominated for Emmy awards for “High School Musical” and the NBC series, “American Dreams.”
Other pageant judges included Sarah Ivens, editor-in-chief of OK! magazine, a leading celebrity news publication; Kim Lyons, star of NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” and James Arthur Ray, president and CEO of James Ray International, a multi-million dollar company dedicated to teaching people how to create wealth. And Trace Ayala, international fashion designer, was also a judge.
This year’s winner of the pageant was Kirsten Haglund of Minnesota.