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Miss USA 2004
Los Angeles, April 12, 2004

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Shandi Finnessey and Susie Castillo
Shandi Finnessey is crowned Miss USA 2004 by Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003

Show me . . . the winner!

Shandi Finnessey of Missouri was crowned Miss USA 2004 on April 12, 2004, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. She was the subject of a lot of last-minute media buzz before the pageant, and she fulfilled all expectations, looking spectacular and answering questions with remarkable maturity and self-assurance. She will represent the USA at Miss Universe 2004 in Quito, Ecuador.
Waiting for the word with Amanda Pennekamp of South CarolinaThe crown
The first runner-up was the effervescent Amanda Pennekamp of South Carolina. Statuesque Ashley Puleo of North Carolina was the second runner-up, and Oklahoma's youthful Lindsay Hill was the third runner-up. The fourth runner-up was glamorous Stephanie Culberson of Tennessee.

Others among the Top 10 were Kristen Berset of Florida, Caroline Medley of Georgia, Tara Darby of Alabama, Jennifer Murphy of Oregon and Kimberly Glyn Weible of Idaho. Others among the Top 15 were Danielle Demski of Arizona, Stephanie Guerrero of Texas, Vanessa Bissanti of New Hampshire, Jenna Hardin of New Mexico and Tara McCormick of Washington state.
Shandi FinnesseyShandi Finnessey
Jennifer Sherrill of Arkansas was chosen Miss Photogenic by an Internet vote of pageant fans. Michelle Fongemie of Vermont was voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow delegates.

NBC co-owns the pageant with flamboyant billionaire (and now NBC star) Donald Trump. This combination makes for many promotional possibilities, and they were used to the fullest in the Hollywood venue. On the NBC reality show "Fear Factor," aired just before the pageant, Tara Darby of Alabama edged out Jaclyn Nesheiwat of New York to become "Miss Fear Factor." And at the beginning of the televised pageant, Trump spoofed his own reality hit "The Apprentice," by handing outgoing Miss USA Susie Castillo her walking papers.
Shandi FinnesseyThe top 5
The top 5, rom left, Stephanie Culberson of Tennessee, Shandi Finnessey of Missouri, Ashley Puleo of North Carolina, Lindsay Hill of Oklahoma and Amanda Pennekamp of South Carolina
The judges' decision tracked remarkably well with public sentiments, if randomly selected "average citizens" are any indication. Members of the MOMS Club of Lawrence, Kan. (South), told PNB minutes before the winners were announced that they were "torn between Missouri and the two Carolinas." Ms. Finnessey, they said, had "really good answers."
Leslie Sale, Miss Pageant.com, agreed with this assessment. "I like her a lot," she said of the soon-to-be-crowned Miss USA. "She has a lot of substance." PNB's queen was impressed with all the Top 5, and like the Kansas mothers, found the two Carolinas outstanding.

"Ashley Puleo is great all around," she said. "No weaknesses that I could see. And Amanda Pennekamp has the best butt. Gosh, I hope she doesn't take that wrong, but as a trainer, I'm impressed with her body."
All photos courtesy of Miss Universe L.P., LLLP

PNB Miss USA archive
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