“But there was no way I was leaving that store without it. When you know, you just know. The only thing I can compare it to is maybe choosing your wedding gown,” Niesen said.

Its price tag, which she declines to reveal, is just part of the cost of becoming Miss USA, she said. So are sore, aching, blistered feet from a day spent in 6 inch heels. wholesale nfl jerseys wake up calls to achieve the perfectly coiffed hair and flawless makeup required for more than two weeks of daily pre pageant publicity appearances in Las Vegas. today.

Tonight’s pageant marks the end of a whirlwind publicity and paparazzi extravaganza that began May 18 in Las Vegas as the women promoted the Miss Universe pageant that is part of Donald Trump’s empire. but I have met 44 of these girls and they are amazing women,” she said last month from the Rapid City home of her parents, Gayle and Jim Niesen. “This experience has been life changing. I’ve learned so much about communication skills, the interview process, public speaking, being a role model and I’ve gotten to meet people I would otherwise never have met.”

Among the most famous? The Donald and his daughter, Ivanka.

“It was more cool to meet her than Mr. Trump, I think,” Niesen said of Ivanka. She also met morning talk show host Kelly Ripa, when she was chosen to perform on an episode of “Live with Kelly.” A longtime practitioner of yoga, Niesen’s incredible flexibility earned her the chance to perform a signature trick putting her feet behind her head and walking on her hands on Ripa’s television show. “That was really fun,” she said.

Unlike the Miss America pageant, there is no talent category in the Miss USA pageant, and the women wear bikinis for the swimsuit competition. At5 feet 9 inches tall, the willowy Niesen had to stop running long distances to slim her well muscled upper thighs. As an exercise sciences major at Black Hills State University, where she was on the track team, Niesen took a semester off from college to prepare for the national pageant. Walking, Pilates and yoga have helped her create a longer, leaner look for the competition.

“The Asians love me. I don’t know if it’s my blonde hair and blue eyes or what, but every day I probably get about 30 fan emails in my inbox from all over the world. That’s one of my favorite things is reading those and replying to those,” she said. “I have this one little10 year old boy who just got his first email account and we message back and forth every day. He tells me how his day at school was . he’s kind of like my pen pal. I’ve never met him, I don’t even know what his name is, but I just love reading his messages because he is so funny.”

The 2010 graduate of Rapid City Stevens High School is one of the youngest contestants in this year’s pageant. Since she is not yet 21, Niesen can’t make casino appearances in Las Vegas. That’s fine with her, because it means she’ll get more rest and spend less time on her feet.

Packing for the competition on May 17, Niesen’sbedroom looked like a runway fashion explosion. An average of three outfits were required for each day’s appearances. Huge zippered bags of shoes, makeup, jewelry and other accessories had to be packed for the trip, as well as countless dresses.

“Do we know just how many suitcases we’re talking about?” inquired Jim Niesen as he peeked into his daughter’s bedroom, mentally estimating airline luggage fees.

Every ensemble had been pre approved at Pageant Power Week, held in Minneapolis in May, she said. Niesen, who said her style tends toward “vintage” more than “Las Vegas,” actually had some of her outfits rejected as too conservative by pageant officials.

Gayle Niesen said her daughter has always loved to shop for clothes.

“I like to say that she came out . a girly girl,” her mother said. “I didn’t push it. She just kind of discovered it on her own and loves it.”

Instead, the Niesens sheltered their daughter from her precocious beauty and the world of childhood beauty pageants, especially when total strangers would comment in the wake of the JonBenet Ramsey tragedy.

“We’d be in the grocery store and total strangers would come up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, she looks just like JonBenet.’ I wanted to protect her from that.'”

The Niesens spent the last week in Las Vegas watching their younger daughter (Taylor has an older sister, Ashley, 23, and two older half brothers) on stage in the preliminary competitions and they’ll be rooting for her to accomplish her goal of finishing among the 15 semifinalists.

“It has been 37 years since a woman from the state of South Dakota has been called as a semifinalist at Miss USA, and never once has a South Dakotan been crowned Miss USA. I would love to make history on June 3,” Niesen said.

On a mission

Miss South Dakota USA Taylor Niesen is passionate about community service and is currently an official spokeswoman for FocusDriven, where she has pledged to drive cellphone free.

As a nanny who often drives precious cargo, Niesen sees the need to always be “connected” as a growing concern for the safety of all drivers and passengers. She also dedicates her time to supporting the Made for Shade organization that promotes the importance of sun safety and skin protection. cheapnflauthenticjerseys The organization raises money to purchase shade structures, shaded playground equipment and/or plant trees on public school playgrounds that provide shaded areas for children.

Also, as the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Niesenis eager to become more involved with the Susan G. Komen foundation, one of Miss USA’s official partners.