Missouri contestant named Miss USA

— Shandi Finnessey of Missouri was crowned Miss USA 2004 on Monday.

Finnessey, Miss Metro St. Louis, is pursuing a graduate degree in counseling at Lindenwood University in St. Louis. She was crowned during the Miss USA ceremonies at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

Amanda Helen Pennekamp of South Carolina was named first runner-up. Ashley Rachel Puleo of North Carolina, Lindsay Hill of Oklahoma and Stephanie Culberson of Tennessee rounded out the top five.

Finnessey was crowned by outgoing titleholder Susie Castillo.

The finalists competed in swimsuit, evening gown and interview competitions.

The winner's prize package includes a New York City apartment for a year, extensive travel opportunities and a yearlong salary.

Finnessey will represent the United States at the June 1 Miss Universe pageant in Quito, Ecuador.

Finnessey had said during the state competition that her platform is integrating people with mental challenges into society.

photo

AP Photo

Miss USA 2004 Shandi Finnessey, from Missouri, receives her crown from Miss USA 2003 Susie Castillo during the 53rd Annual Miss USA Competition at Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. The ceremony was Monday.

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