caught up with the newly crowned Ms. Missouri, Nicole Rash, prior to her trip out to Los Angeles later this month to represent the Show-Me State at the Ms. America Pageant
. Nicole, 27, moved to the St. Louis suburb of Brentwood last year and is no stranger to beauty pageants, having sashayed on the catwalk for her home state of Indiana in a similar contest. Daily RFT: You represented Indiana in the Miss America contest in 2008 and now you're representing Missouri in the 2012 Ms. America Pageant. How is that possible?
It's a bit confusing. Miss America is the original pageant. It's been around forever and is for women age 17 to 24 who are single and never been married. Ms. America is somewhat more recent and for women 26 and older and not to be confused with Donald Trump's Miss USA for women between 18 and 26. So, I couldn't compete again in Miss America but I can compete in Ms. America.
Uh, okay. Getting back to your Indiana gig, you're aware that in St. Louis if someone calls you a hoosier, even Ms. Hoosier, it's not a compliment?
I heard this. I also know about the St. Louis question of, "Where'd you go to high school?"
I know about gooey butter cake and toasted ravioli. And, yes, I've heard this derogatory term for hoosier. You were the first runner up in the 2008 Miss America contest. What are you going to do differently this time around to bring the crown home to Indiana, I mean, Missouri?
You definitely learn from experience. I competed twice in the Miss Indiana competition before I won that contest, and I think the key is being as genuine as you can. Sometimes the women competing are so polished it can seem fake. I just hope to put forth the best representation of me as possible. The Ms. America Pageant has a "sports wear" competition in place of the "swimsuit" competition. What's up with that?
I think they want to level the playing the field. If there is a 47-year-old woman in the competition, they want her to feel she can compete just as well as a contestant twenty years younger. The goal is to ensure that you're physically fit. So what are you going to wear for the "sports wear" competition? Please tell me a "fat man's old sweatsuit."
No. I got a little tennis outfit with a skirt. It's pretty cute. I'm a girly-girl. It's fun and playful. More Maria Sharapova than Billie Jean King?
Yeah, you could say that. What do you plan to do if you win?
As Miss Indiana I was involved in an anti-smoking campaign called "Breathe Easy," and I want to continue that work. I traveled to elementary and junior high schools and spoke to kids about making good decision. I have had some family members die from lung cancer, so it's an issue I'd adamant about. I'm also finishing up my bachelor's degree in Spanish and just got engaged last November. I've got a pretty full plate.