4, 2000 (Lexington, Ky.) University
of Kentucky student Kristen Johnson has transformed back into a normal person
concentrating on school. The UK broadcasting student gave up her crown as Miss Kentucky
Teen over Thanksgiving weekend, crowing a new Miss Kentucky Teen.
hers was the shortest reign of any Miss Teen Kentucky changes that allowed the
Kentucky pageant contestants to be involved in other events shortened the year
Johnson said the year has been an exciting one. She was named Miss Kentucky Teen in June
and was second runner-up in Augusts Miss Teen USA. Johnson
is only the second Kentucky woman to place in the top five in the national pageants
18-year history; Kentucky had a first runner-up in 1989. She also began her first semester
at UK in August as a freshman studying electronic journalism.
was unbelievable, she said of winning her runner-up status. Just to be in the
top 10 was incredible. It was a big shock.
more incredible this was her first try. Besides being in a few hometown pageants
and participating in this years Kentucky Junior Miss competition, Johnson had never
been in a Miss Teen pageant. The Miss Kentucky Teen pageant was her first try.
just decided to give it a shot, she said. I was planning to go have fun. It
ended up I made the top 10, then the top five and then ended up winning. It was a huge
possibility had been so remote that Johnsons family didnt even have
accommodations planned for the pageants final days.
had to go out and buy me clothes for the next days, she said. I hadnt
packed for that. I didnt expect to be there or win.
Clark, who has coordinated the Kentucky pageant for many years with her daughter Connie
Clark Harrison, said they felt Johnson was unique.
is a natural beauty. She is a really wonderful person, Clark said. She was one
of the best contestants weve ever had, and she is a wonderful role model for young
of Johnsons most shining qualities is her down-to-earth spirit, Clark said. From the
small western Kentucky town of Slaughters in Webster County, Johnson grew up in a rural
area, the daughter of Leica, a junior high school teacher, and Frankie, an equipment
operator for the local gas pipeline company. On the side, the family raised cattle and
tobacco with everyone pitching in with the chores. Johnson said her win shocked and
excited her neighbors as much as it did her.
didnt know if they would treat me different, she said. They didnt,
and thats good. I dont feel like anythings really happened to me.
Im still the same old Kristen.
of the prize package in the Miss Kentucky Teen contest was a full scholarship to Murray
State University. But Johnson had already decided to come to UK.
was the place for me. It has a great journalism program, and I really love the campus,
even though it is so far from home, she said. It was where I wanted to
career plan is to become a television news anchor in Kentucky, then move on to a bigger
market Chicago, Memphis or Los Angeles, she said. Her performance in the Miss Teen
pageants may help get her to L.A. She has garnered attention from modeling companies and
television casting companies across the United States since her wins.
has been a valuable experience for the future, especially going into broadcasting,
she said. It has opened so many doors to me.
with her re-discovered normal life, Johnson is taking a step back from
pageants, although she said she is considering doing other pageants in the future. But for
now shes enjoying spending time at home fishing and frog-gigging part
of country life those city girls didnt get, she said with a laugh.
part of what Clark thinks makes Johnson a perennial winner.
cant help but like her, Clark said. She is such a real, beautiful