Film and TV

Miss Colorado Nurse Kelley Johnson Wins Miss America By Way She Lost


Kelley Johnson, this year's Miss Colorado, didn't win the 2015 Miss America pageant.

Instead, she finished as second runner-up behind eventual champ Betty Cantrell, Miss Georgia.

But in all likelihood, Johnson will be remembered longer and more fondly than any of the other contestants — and may have found a clever way to extend her fame beyond the requisite fifteen minutes.

First, she won widespread acclaim by her surprising performance during the pageant's talent portion, eschewing singing, acting or twirling flaming batons to deliver a monologue about the nursing profession (she's a registered nurse) while clad in hospital scrubs, not a ballroom gown. See the video below.


Then, during a question-and-answer period, she declared that Ellen DeGeneres should be the first woman to appear on a $10 bill — a response that stands a mighty good chance of landing her a guest appearance on DeGeneres's popular daytime talk show.

During her talk about nursing, Johnson used an Alzheimer's patient named Joe as an example of why she's a nurse.

"Although you say it all the time, you are not just a nurse," she quoted him as saying. "You are my nurse and you have changed my life because you have cared about me." 

Afterward, AL.com concluded that Johnson had "won the hearts of many across America, including nurses from every corner of the globe."


The acclaim was less universal for her response to a question about the first woman who should be featured on a $10 bill. Twitchy collected a slew of snarky tweets, including this one....

...and this one:

Still, this tweet may be the most on-target.

So far, there's no confirmation that Ellen has invited Johnson to stop by for a visit.

But in her Facebook post about her finish, Johnson makes sure to include a prominent Ellen reference with her celebratory response.

The item reads:
OH MY GOSH!!! 2ND RUNNER-UP AT MISS AMERICA!!! This is amazing!!! I WAS COMPLETELY MYSELF — NURSES ALL OVER THE NATION, WE HAVE WON!!! And yes, I would love an intelligent, kind, philanthropic, and FUNNY woman on the $10 bill someday!! We need more people like Ellen in this constantly negative world. CHEERS TO BEING YOURSELF, LOVE YOU GUYS- — THIS IS INCREDIBLE!! TIME TO CELEBRATE!!! @theellenshow
There's a good chance Ellen would have booked Johnson based only on her monologue — but the $10 bill answer certainly shouldn't hurt her cause.

Here's the video of Johnson displaying her talents.


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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