Pageant Confidential: The Road to Miss America

The humble beginnings and ups and downs of contestants' yearlong journeys to the coveted pageant.
7:53 | 01/12/13

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Transcript for Pageant Confidential: The Road to Miss America
Good evening. In just one hour, 53 nervous contestants take to the stage in las vegas. Their goal? To win the most coveted and historic beauty pageant title in the nation. And the more than $50,000 in scholarship money that comes along with it. Tonight, we take you behind the scenes for an unprecedented and unvarnished look at how these beautiful and talented women got here. We selected several of them at random to respect different parts of the country and very different stories. We followed them for much of the last year as they competed for the local, the state and now the national crown. And what you'll see is that behind the makeup and the sashes, the journey to miss america can be anything but glamorous. Here they are. 53 beautiful, talented young women in the home stretch. Closing in on the crown. You may not be able to tell it from looking at them, but hidden behind those sparkling smiles and pageant waves is an anticipation laced with stress, fatigue and yes, even self-doubt. Who they are, where they come from and how they got here is what we'll be looking at tonight. Rebecca davis! It's a journey that began months ago, in small hometown pageants across america. Starkly humble beginnings for such a grand finale and pageant names that may not ring a bell. From alabama, there's miss covered bridge. From ohio, miss fallen timbers. From idaho, there's miss canyon rim and miss magic valley. And from tennessee, let's not forget that country sunshine. More than 12,000 women a year sing, dance, twirl, banjo, even belly dance their way across local and state stages. ♪ ♪ I'm on fire ♪ ♪ I'm on fire ♪ they are county peaches and potato blot comes who have dreams of becoming the next miss america. We joined 48 local winners at the south carolina state pageant last july as they vie for the state title and a chance to be miss america. The dressing rooms backstage are abuzz with frenzied excitement. Definitely a lot of work and we've all worked hard. Miss lawn laurens county is pageant royalty. She's already won three local pageants, including miss teen south carolina 2009. In pageant world, she is born to be a beauty queen. I had to do six months of training and eating right. The southern belles will compete in swimsuit, interview, talent and evening gown. Good luck, everyone. The atmosphere is strikingly uncompetitive. Closer to a sisterhood of sorts. Beauty queens helping each other to look their best and ease the tension, as well. ♪ There ain't nobody better ♪ ♪ oh we belong together baby ♪ and in that spirit of southern hospitality, they are kick to share a thought or a tip, like this potato chip vocalist trick from miss greenville scottish games brooke mostelle, who believes the oil in the chip helps her hit the high note. ♪ Ah ♪ see? I go in like an hour. But most anticipated is the moment they bare it all -- swimsuit competition. To get bathing suit ready. Some girls have to put fake boobs in. These are real though. You got the ones that stick. And you got ones that you just slide in. I think a lot of girls, I mean, because you need them for your dress. So, sometimes you put butt glue up here, so some have to get it so the fake boobs stay in. Butt glue. A spray adhesive essential for keeping those flimsy bikinis from those dreaded wardrobe malfunctions. If you're bathing suit rides up, you can't pull it up in front of the judges. You don't want everybody to see everything, so you have to make sure it stays. Good luck, ladies. Stripping down to a bikini is a bonding experience of sorts here, and the ladies pull out every stop to make sure things go smoothly. Like those last-minute lunges. And pushups that they say make their muscles pop. After all, swimsuit counts for 15% of their score. We made the top 11 to go on for talent, and then evening gown, and then talent baby! Miss south carolina! Then, it's the mad dash from swimsuit -- is there another mirror in here? Over here. To talent. ♪ To dream the impossible dream ♪ our pageant veteran ali goes for patriotic on the piano, ♪ while the other ladies wait anxiously on the sidelines for their turn. Normally, my hands shake and that's kind of a problem for anyone who plays the piano, but I had a calm over me this night, so I'm feeling good about it. And did those potato chips really work? You be the judge. ♪ Don't rain on my parade ♪ I could have held this pose a little longer, but I think no one rained on my parade. Before long, all the giddiness subsides. And the mood becomes even somber for some. All of it over in just a second. I didn't make top five, but that's okay. There are other things. Great girls out there. I'm really excited to see who wins. And now, it's the moment they've been waiting for. Who will be chosen? And whose head will hang as she walks the long hallway alone? Going to change your life, girls. Ali rogers is miss south carolina! The former miss teen from laurens county is the new miss south carolina. I'm going to miss america and I cannot believe it. I cannot believe it. And just like that, she joins the excitement of all the newly crowned state winners across the country. And our new miss kentucky. New miss florida. Your 2012 miss iowa. But what happens when the thrill of the win is replaced by the reality of the tiresome months ahead? Ali's probably got seven or eight more pounds to lose. Whoa. The stress. Oh, my goodness. Oh. The work. It's very hard to make a butt not be flat. The long hours. Good morning. The training. What's your feelings on euthanasia. It's a vaccine, correct? No, euthanasia is assisted suicide. What happens when the 53 miss states meet for the very first time? I can imitate a sea gull. A rare chance to size up the competition, when we come back.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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