LAS VEGAS—Katherine Putnam, 23, a University of Louisiana at Monroe senior music performance major serving as Miss Louisiana 2009, was named third runner-up in the Miss America 2010 Pageant Saturday night.
Putnam earned this honor at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas before a live television audience estimated to be in the millions. Her platform was "Miracle of Music," focusing on the power of music to transform lives.
ULM President James Cofer and First Lady Deborah Cofer joined Byron and Heather Putnam, Katherine's parents, along with several other Louisianans who made the trek to Vegas to support Putnam through the weeklong preliminary competition, which culminated with Saturday's live airing of the pageant on the TLC channel.
"What an honor we all feel to experience the excellence and grace that Katherine represents for ULM and the state of Louisiana," said First Lady Cofer. "Her qualities, both inside and out, bring an assurance of her spiritual grounding. She is an example for us all."
"Katherine is a perfect example of the kind of talent, poise and discipline we are fortunate to have at ULM," added President Cofer. "First Lady Deborah and I know what a long and arduous process this has been for Katherine, but we also knew firsthand that if anyone could do it, Katherine could."
Putnam, the first Indian-American Miss Louisiana, delighted the audience with her piano performance of "The Hallelujah Chorus."
After modeling a gold, beaded evening gown, Putnam was quoted as saying, "What matters most is not what you wear, what matters is what's on the inside. True beauty will radiate from the inside, whatever you wear."
This year's panel of judges included actress and producer Vivica A. Fox; operatic vocalist and philanthropist Katie Harmon; Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson; Grammy nominee Dave Koz; conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh; and singer/songwriter Brooke White.
The weighted scoring on Saturday night, as the show whittled down the contestants during semifinals, was as follows: Composite Score, 30 percent for the Top 16; Lifestyle & Fitness in Swimsuit, 20 percent for the Top 16; Evening Wear, 20 percent for the Top 10; Talent, 30 percent for the Top 8; and Onstage Question for the Top 8.
For the final ballot, each judge ranks the Top 5 contestants in the order they believe they should each finish. The outcome of the pageant is based solely on the point totals resulting from that final ballot.
Earlier this week, Miss America Organization officials named Putnam the winner of this year's National Miracle Maker award.
Putnam's award comes with $5,000 in scholarship money for her work raising funds for the Children's Miracle Network. The Miss America Organization is an official fundraising partner of the non-profit organization.
The Miss America Organization routinely provides millions in cash and scholarship assistance to young women as the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance in one of the nation's leading achievement programs.