American Beauty 

Richmond's shot at Miss USA, Jennifer Pitts, talks about chapped lips, her Pomeranian and what she can offer Donald Trump.

Style: Do you have to display a talent?

Pitts: For the Miss America pageant, I did a ballet routine on pointe, but there isn't a talent requirement for the Miss USA contest, and I've kind of let my ballet fall by the wayside since becoming a career woman. I came here to work for the attorney general's office and at the time it was Jerry Kilgore, and I knew he had his eye on running for governor. I'm very interested in politics. In fact, I want to be the first female governor in Virginia myself.

Are there any secret items or talismans you'll pack with you to help you win?

I don't know if you've ever heard of this — it's kind of crazy. It's my greatest beauty secret and it's called Bag Balm. You can buy it at drugstores, and it's the best lubricant for elbows and your lips if they're really chapped, which mine tend to be. It's actually what they use on cows' udders when they get chapped [laughs]. Christie Brinkley uses it.

Will anyone go with you to Baltimore?

I have to go by myself because there are two weeks of prerecordings and rehearsals. I'll actually room with another contestant. My parents live in Raleigh, and they and my close friends will come competition week and will be there the night of the pageant. I have a little brown fluffy Pomeranian named Coco Chanel. People can see me walking her all the time down Cary Street near where I live in the Fan. I wish I could bring her with me.

Do you find that people want to home in on your personal life? I say that as I ask you whether you're single.

I am single. It's funny, people will bring up that fact and say, "A pretty girl like you, you shouldn't be single." Do I want a boyfriend? Of course. Am I looking for a husband? Not yet.

When asked what they wish for or what they'd like most to contribute to, we've come to expect contestants to say, "World peace." What would you say that would be more tangible or explicit that you could contribute to in making the world a better place?

Being the oldest contestant, that right there speaks a lot for me. I don't have to say I hope one day to do this or that. I've done it, accomplished it. I would bring to the table as Miss USA maturity and knowledge of the industry. I'm a professional and a career woman. A 19-year-old out there on stage certainly won't have the same life experiences. This is one of Donald Trump's enterprises. He owns the pageant just as he owns "The Apprentice" or his real-estate company. He needs people who will help his businesses prosper and grow, and I can do that very, very well.

That's interesting. I didn't know Trump was the proprietor of this particular pageant.

Yes. He [along with NBC] owns Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and the Miss Universe organization. And if I were to win, I'd move to New York for the year and live at Trump Place in the city and share an apartment with Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA.

Wouldn't some people pay a premium price to be a fly on the wall for that?

[Laughs] Security's very tight. S

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