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Miss America dream ends for Mitchell's Dee

Miss South Dakota Tessa Dee, of Mitchell, models a Sturgis-inspired outfit, complete with high, studded boots, for the "Show Us Your Shoes" parade Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J. The parade was one of the final events for the 53 Miss America contestants before the final competition, which aired live Sunday evening. (Photo courtesy of Miss America Organization)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — After more than two months of preparation for Miss America, and nearly two weeks of appearances, rehearsals and preliminary competitions at this year’s pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., the whirlwind is over for Miss South Dakota Tessa Dee, of Mitchell.

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Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was crowned Miss America 2014 Sunday night during the Miss America Organization’s live broadcast of the final competition. She received a $50,000 scholarship along with her title. Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh was fourth runner up, Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones was third runner up, Miss Oklahoma Kelsey Griswold was second runner up and Miss California Crystal Lee was first runner up. Miss Kansas Theresa Vail was named America’s Choice.

Dee made her primetime debut on Sunday as one of 53 contestants — one from each state, along with the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — vying for the title of Miss America.

Contestants were quickly narrowed down to the top 15, then whittled to 12, 10, five and eventually the new Miss America through evaluations on swimwear (named the lifestyle and fitness category by the Miss America Organization), evening wear, talent and an on-stage question.

According to the Miss America Organization, the three nights of preliminary rounds, held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, determined who made the top 15.

Though Dee was not named one of the 15 semifinalists, each contestant was given a moment to shine, and extol the virtues of her home state.

“Hey Mount Rushmore, make room for a new face — this one,” Dee said, in a clip filmed prior to the live broadcast.

Prior to the event, Dee posted on her Miss South Dakota — Tessa Dee Facebook page that no matter the outcome, she was grateful for the chance to compete.

“Tonight is the night. Whatever happens, this has been the hardest, yet most rewarding, experience of my life,” she wrote. “I am so thankful to be here, to be Miss South Dakota, and to have the support system that I have. This is amazing and surreal and I can't believe my biggest dream of being on the Miss America stage has already come true.”

On June 29, Dee was crowned Miss South Dakota at the annual competition in Hot Springs. Dee’s platform, Project Bookworm, seeks to promote literacy among children and families.

Miss America contestants arrived in Atlantic City, the birthplace of the Miss America pageant, last week.