ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Miss Louisiana has a full head of steam heading into Sunday night's Miss America finale, having won her second preliminary competition in as many nights.
On Friday, Laryssa Bonacquisti won the talent preliminary with a ventriloquism routine, something the 22-year-old has been doing since she was 6.
A day earlier, Bonacquisti won the swimsuit preliminary.
But she doesn't feel like the crown is hers to lose at this point.
"Preliminary wins are incredible, but that doesn't mean I'm ahead of the other girls," she told reporters afterward. "It's a little boost, but every other girl has the same opportunity on Sunday night" during the Miss America finale.
Miss Florida Sara Zeng won Friday's swimsuit competition. She said Hurricane Irma, bearing down on her home state, is on her mind every moment.
"Being away from all my friends who can't make it to Atlantic City because of the storm or airport cancellations, I just want them to know I'm right there with them, and as soon as I get back, whether it's as Miss America or not, I'll be part of whatever recovery work needs to be done."
Earlier in the week, during their onstage interviews, many of the contestants took on issues including political civility, arts education and even why pro athletes are more than just fantasy team components.
Miss Wisconsin McKenna Collins said Americans of differing political stripes need to speak civilly with each other, even though they don't agree on the issues. She said she has a meeting scheduled with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican and fellow Wisconsinite, later this month to discuss the topic.
"I'm hoping I'll be having that meeting as Miss America because I really believe it's the first thing we should be talking about as a country," she said.
Miss Tennessee Caty Davis recounted how her family has had three generations of addiction and how her father took his own life after abusing alcohol and opioids. She urged families to lock their medicine cabinets or securely store prescription drugs.
"Addiction is not a choice or a moral failing," she said. "It is a disease that alters brain chemistry. Don't be an accidental drug dealer; lock up your prescription drugs."
Miss Pennsylvania Katie Schreckengast promoted adoption by recounting how she was adopted from South Korea as an infant.
"My incredible parents raised me to see my story as unique and wonderful," she said.
And Miss Ohio Sarah Clapper said that when a professional athlete is injured, the public should care about athletes as human beings, not just as components of a fantasy sports team.
"Their life could be changing forever, and we need to support them through that transition," she said.
Miss Texas Margana Wood won the swimsuit competition on Wednesday, and Miss Utah JessiKate Riley won the talent portion with a classical violin performance on a 115-year-old instrument she has named Sam.
On Thursday, Miss Minnesota Brianna Drevlow won the talent competition, playing "Rhapsody in Blue" on the piano.
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