Does a Whiff of Scandal Help Miss USA?

"Scandal and beauty seem to go well together, especially from a publicity standpoint," said Rachel Weingarten, a fashion marketing consultant and author of "Hello Gorgeous."

"Bad-girl images help Britney and Paris. And, of course, so many big-name models are getting into trouble. But it hardly ends their careers," Weingarten said.

In some sense, the public might find it hard to relate to beauty queens.

"The public just doesn't latch on to those altruistic promises of what they will do to make the world better if they win," Weingarten said.

Certainly, the most famous Miss America of the last 20 years, Vanessa Williams, was forced to give up her tiara, after it was learned that she had posed nude in photos later published in Penthouse magazine. Subsequently, her acting and singing career took off.

Conner, a 5-foot-5-inch blonde, has been competing in pageants since she was 4 years old.

She won Miss USA in April and is now set to continue in that capacity until July when a new winner is selected.

"I am an easygoing, down-to-earth girl," Conner said in her contestant profile for the contest.

"Throughout my life, hardships and different experiences have made me a very humbled, yet strong individual. It is because of these life lessons that I have become the person I am today."

If Conner were to repeat that statement again today, it would certainly be fitting, but the words would take on a whole new meaning.

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