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Miss USA 2002

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Cortney Owen

On the fast track

"I'm a creature of the cold," says Cortney Owen warmly.

She's talking about climate. Wisconsin can get pretty chilly, so a couple of wintry weeks in Gary, Indiana, are no ordeal for her. If the Miss USA Pageant were an outdoor event, she would probably have a competitive edge.

Cortney Owen Cortney Owen
But who needs a weather advantage when you look like Cortney Owen? This Dairy State native would be a contender even if the pageant were held at noon on the equator.

Ms. Owen has an unusual occupation, motorsports marketing. She's one of the few women in the field. Though she's not a race car driver herself, she has been around the track for some unforgettable laps. "Even as a passenger, you wouldn't believe the rush," she says. "Everybody should try it at least once."

This is a woman who thrives on challenges. In addition to her main occupation, she's a model, a cheerleader and a cheerleading coach, and she's headed for a career in law and politics. She's a veteran of the Junior Miss program, which is a pretty demanding training ground, and originally got into Miss USA competition because she wanted to test herself physically. Marketing motorsports
We'd say she passed.

But what are her weaknesses? "It's hard to stay slim when you live in state that makes beer and cheese."

DEMOGRAPHICS: Ms. Owen, who is 22, going on 23, reckons that she is just about in the middle of the this year's field when it comes to age.

Photos courtesy of Cortney Owen


Adorable in Arizona

Jennifer Lenz fell in love with Arizona in the late 1990s, and she made it her home. "It's so beautiful and diverse," she says. She enjoys the mild winters, and doesn't complain about the searing summers. (She really must be smitten.)

It's a fact of life that when you fall in love, you have to leave an old love behind. When Ms. Lenz became a Sun Belt girl, she bade farewell to Missouri, where she was a fast-rising pageant star. She had been third runner-up to Miss Missouri Teen USA 1995, and made the top 10 at Miss Missouri USA for '96 and '97.

Jennifer Lenz
With Miss Arizona Teen USAFortunately, the Miss USA Pageant is nationwide. (Maybe that's why they call it Miss USA.) In her new home state, Ms. Lenz jumped back into pageant competition, and had clearly lost none of her appeal. On a mild autumn night, she was crowned Miss Arizona USA.

That's the story of her life, pageantwise, but it hardly expresses how extraordinary Ms. Lenz is. She got her master's degree at 23. She works in a high-pressure human resources position for a broadcast production company. While many other of her rivals are having their first TV exposure, she has already produced a golf tournament on network television. She's a child of the rock era who grooves to the sounds of Sinatra.

Since Ms. Lenz is admittedly "adventurous," we suggested that she try getting her beautiful face into movies. "I never thought much about it," she said, "but talking about it has piqued my interest." Could there be new love in her future?

JUST SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO ASK: Ms. Lenz is not related to actress Kay Lenz, but people sometimes tell her that they look alike.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Lenz

Jennifer Lenz

Amber Boatman

A class act

Amber Boatman fits most people's image of a Southern beauty queen. She's as beautiful as a May morning, with a folksy but refined accent that's almost musical.

She has the kind of pageant background that you might expect. She first competed when she was a small child, and she has won such colorful local titles as Union County Fair Queen and Arkansas Capital Miss. She captured the Miss Arkansas USA crown on her fourth try.

Still, there's something that Ms. Boatman enjoys more than pageants, and that's teaching children. She is finishing her degree at the University of Arkansas, and when autumn 2002 arrives, she plans to be standing in an elementary school classroom, beginning a long career of molding young minds. Lucky kids! With kids
Amber Boatman We asked her to teach us a little about her own state, and she explained that Arkansas is where the South meets the Midwest. She grew up in a small flatland town just 15 minutes from Louisiana. That's classic Dixie. But Fayetteville, where she's a student, is up in the Ozarks, near America's heartland.

Even though she has plenty of experience in pageants, Ms. Boatman admitted that she is growing excited as the big day nears. This won't just be competition, it will be a star turn that few women ever experience. "My mind's going to be open to anything," she told us. "I don't even know if I still want to teach."

But then she thought again. "When the fall comes, I'll be ready," she said. "Fall always makes me want to teach."

Photos courtesy of Amber Boatman


More exclusive Miss USA contestant profiles:

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