Film and TV

Miss Colorado Nurse Kelley Johnson Wins $10K More Thanks to Ellen Degeneres

We admit that our predictions aren't always flawless. But every once in a while, we get one right.

Earlier this week, we argued that Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson had won the Miss America pageant even though she finished as second runner-up thanks to the attention she'd received for her monologue about nursing (she's a registered nurse) as delivered during the talent competition and her suggestion that talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres's face be put on the $10 bill.

Afterward, Johnson earned even more positive PR when The View hosts Michelle Collins and Joy Behair mocked her monologue, inciting a Twitter backlash under the hashtag #nursesunite. And the subsequent non-apology apology aired on the next episode of the show only fueled the fire.

The latest payoff for Johnson was also one we (and pretty much everyone else, frankly) saw coming: an appearance on the Ellen show.

During her sit-down yesterday, Johnson talked about her $10 bill suggestion, delivered during the final stages of the contest. "I didn't think I would make it that far," she said. "I was just so blessed by that. And then backstage they said, 'You might have a chance to be on Ellen DeGeneres.' And I started crying! I was like, 'Oh my gosh, she might notice!'"

She did — and she was also impressed by the monologue. "A lot of people told me not to do it," Johnson conceded. "But I'm a nurse, and that's my talent — taking care of people.... I wanted to give the nurses who don't have that voice that voice and that recognition."

Johnson noted that her earnings from her second-runner-up finish allowed her to pay off all her student loans — but now she's thinking about going to graduate school. And lo and behold, DeGeneres presented her with $10,000 toward that goal — hopefully with actual money rather than the $10 bill Ellen mock-ups used as props during the segment.

Look below to see two videos — the first featuring DeGeneres amusingly previewing Johnson's upcoming appearance, the second showcasing the two of them on set together.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts