Miss Minnesota USA

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For the state pageant affiliated with Miss America, see Miss Minnesota.
Kaylee Unverzagt, Miss Minnesota USA 2008

The Miss Minnesota USA competition is the pageant that selects the representative for the state of Minnesota in the Miss USA pageant.

Despite a strong start in the first three years of competition at Miss USA, Minnesota has been only mildly successful overall. In more recent years Minnesota has twice received recognition with the Miss Photogenic award.

Barbara Peterson was the first Miss Minnesota USA to be crowned Miss USA (in 1976), and was also the first Miss USA to be unplaced at Miss Universe. Her sister Polly Peterson was Miss Minnesota USA 1981.[1]

Results summary[edit]


  • Winners: Barbara Peterson (1976)
  • 2nd runners-up: Deborah Cossette (1977)
  • 3rd runners-up: Lanore Van Buren (2002)
  • 4th runners-up: Kari Lee Johnson (1985)
  • Top 6: Angelique de Maison (1995)
  • Top 10: Carla Peterson (1980)
  • 'Top 11/12: Jolene Stravrakis (1994)
  • Top 15: Jodell Stirmlinger (1952), Mary Ann Papke (1953), Dawn Joyce (1954), Kaylee Unverzagt (2008), Erica Nego (2009)
  • Top 20: Haley O'Brien (2014)



Year Name Hometown Age1 Placement at Miss USA Special awards at Miss USA Notes
2014 Haley O'Brien Excelsior 21 Top 20 Previously Miss Minnesota Teen USA 2010; previously Miss Collegiate America 2012
2013 Danielle Hooper[2] Inver Grove Heights 20
2012 Nitaya Panemalaythong Minneapolis 26 Born in Thailand
2011 Brittany Thelemann Plymouth 23
2010 Courtney Basara Duluth 20
2009 Erica Nego Plymouth 24 Top 15 (12th place) Later Miss Universe Ghana 2011
2008 Kaylee Unverzagt Eagan 20 Top 15 (15th place)
2007 Alla Ilushka Eden Prairie 22 Previously Miss Minnesota Teen USA 2002, top 10 at Miss Teen USA 2002
2006 Dottie Cannon[3] Eagan 22 Miss Congeniality
2005 Carrie Lee Sebeka 25
2004 Jessica Dereschuk Stacy 20
2003 Sarah Cahill Waseca 24 Miss Photogenic Previously Miss Minnesota Teen USA 1996
2002 Lanore Van Buren Edina 26 3rd Runner-Up Bluepoint Apparel Swimsuit and Fitness Award
2001 Anne Marie Clausen Golden Valley 23 Mrs. Minnesota United States 2011, top 10 at nationals under the name Anne Marie Moore
2000 Paige Swenson Fridley Miss Photogenic Previously Miss Minnesota Teen USA 1994, placed 13th at Nationals
1999 Crystal Vandenberg[4] Brooklyn Center 19
1998 Josan Hengen Eden Prairie/Circle Pines 19
1997 Melissa Hall Minneapolis Later Mrs. Minnesota America 2004 and Top 10 semi-finalist at Mrs. America 2004 under her married name, Melissa Young.[5]
1996 Karin Smith Brooklyn Park 25 Contestant on ABC-TV "The Bachelor"
1995 Angelique de Maison St. Louis Park Top 6 Finalist (5th place)
1994 Jolene Stravrakis Burnsville Top 12 Semifinalist (10th place) Five years after briefly holding the title in 1988, Stravraki won the title again in her last year of eligibility after having her criminal record expunged.[6]
1993 Kristi Bennecke[7] Anoka
1992 Amber Rue Minneapolis Completed her reign amid publicity about a "public lovers' quarrel involving allegations of coerced sex, extortion, fraud and defamation of character".[8]
1991 April Herke Eden Prairie 4th Runner-Up in Miss Oktoberfest 1990
1990 Janet Tveita Minneapolis Miss Congeniality
1989 Julie Knutson Crystal Semi-Finalist in 1987 and 1988, won crown in 1989 at age 22
1988 Julie Nelson Bloomington 2nd Runner-Up to Bolich, replaced Stavrakis. She was crowned less than a month before she competed in the Miss USA pageant.[1]
Jolene Stavrakis Apple Valley Bolich's 1st Runner-Up and replacement. Resigned days later after she too revealed she had pleaded guilty to shoplifting in 1986.[9]
Sue Bolich Mound Reigned from November 1987 - February 1988, resigned after she was arrested for shoplifting.[10]
1987 Christine Rosenberger South St. Paul
1986 Cynthia Peterson Edina
1985 Kari Lee Johnson Minneapolis 4th Runner-Up
1984 Martha Mork Edina
1983 Carolyn Mattson New Hope
1982 Lori Kmetz New Brighton
1981 Polly Peterson Edina Sister of Miss Minnesota USA 1976 and Miss USA 1976 Barbara Peterson; 2nd Runner-Up in the 1976 Miss Teenage America Pageant
1980 Carla Peterson Albert Lea Top 12 Semifinalist (12th place)
1979 Cynthia Sue Lee St. Paul
1978 Janey Gohl St. Cloud
1977 Deborah Cossette Minneapolis 2nd Runner-Up
1976 Barbara Peterson Edina Miss USA 1976 Non-Semifinalist at Miss Universe 1976
1975 Dawn Lamotte St. Paul
1974 Gayle Johnson Minneapolis
1973 Cyndi James Minneapolis
1972 Darlene Koskiniemi Roseville
1971 Shirley Kittleson Minneapolis
1970 Sally Strickland St. Paul
1969 Laureen Darling Minneapolis
1968 Arlene Larson Minneapolis
1967 Betty Ann Brewer Richfield
1966 Patricia Thatcher
1965 Elizabeth Jane Carroll Bloomington Miss Congeniality
1960-64 No Representative
1959 Muriel Fairbanks Minneapolis
1958 Sue Bouchard Minneapolis
1957 Mary Margaret Ford Minneapolis
1956 Marilyn Johnson Minneapolis
1955 Sally Ann Colombo Stillwater
1954 Dawn Joyce Minneapolis Top 19 Semi-Finalist
1953 Mary Ann Papke Minneapolis Top 20 Semi-Finalist
1952 Jodell Stirmlinger St. Paul Top 10 Semi-Finalist

1 Age at the time of the Miss USA pageant


  1. ^ a b Furst, Randy (1988-02-11). "3rd Miss Minnesota-USA has `nothing to hide'". Star-Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Mpls.-St. Paul. p. 01A. 
  2. ^ "Danielle Hooper Crowned Miss Minnesota USA 2013". Beauty Pageant News. November 26, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ Francis, Delma (2006-04-17). "Ambition takes local woman to Baltimore; Miss Minnesota USA, Dottie Cannon of Eagan, is competing Friday in the Miss USA pageant.". Star-Tribune. p. 10E. 
  4. ^ "New Miss Minnesota-USA, Miss Minnesota Teen USA crowned" (Press release). Associated Press. 1998-11-30. 
  5. ^ "2004 Mrs America". Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  6. ^ Blake, Laurie (1993-11-11). "Miss Minnesota USA reaches crown and glory again // Five years ago she had to forfeit her title". Star-Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Mpls.-St. Paul. p. 03B. 
  7. ^ Freeborn, Dan (1992-11-19). "She's got her cap set for an education // `No. 1 priority is school,' says Miss Minnesota USA". Star-Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Mpls.-St. Paul. p. 07B. 
  8. ^ McAuliffe, Bill (1992-11-02). "Public lovers' quarrel mars Miss Minnesota USA's reign // Couple traded lawsuits alleging coerced sex, extortion". Star-Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Mpls.-St. Paul. p. 01B. 
  9. ^ Krattenmaker, Tom (1988-02-10). "Second Beauty Queen Withdraws Over Shoplifting". Associated Press. 
  10. ^ "Shoplifting Suspect Won't Be Miss USA". San Francisco Chronicle. 1988-02-09. p. A2. 

External links[edit]