She has touched the upper rung of American politics, but Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin hasn't forgotten what got her there. Even the more embarrassing moments. Case in point: Taking second place in the 1984 Miss Alaska Pageant, where she strutted the stage in a cherry-red, one-piece bathing suit and heels. While a bit bashful about her beauty queen past, her runner-up status made her Alaska's backup for the Miss America Pageant, qualifying her for the group's scholarship fund. The former GOP vice presidential nominee gushed about how the money gave her the start she needed.
It was during a recent Washington luncheon when Palin bumped into Georgetown businesswoman Ann Hand, the official jeweler of the contest, who contributes a portion of her Miss America Collection to the scholarship fund. "That Miss America scholarship—that's what got me through college," Hand says Palin told her. In fact, it covered most of her college years.