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11 surprising facts about Miss USA contestants

From living in refugee camps to having weird phobias, these contestants for Miss USA 2012 are more than just pretty faces.

The 51 women competing in Sunday night’s Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas are more than just pretty faces. These beauties are just like us, facing phobias, obstacles and sporting some hilarious quirks. Get some fun tidbits, culled from contestants’ online pageant videos, about 11 of the competitors – one of them might just win the crown and face-off for Miss Universe in December!

For Miss California, model and aspiring doctor Natalie Pack, the best way to de-stress is to jump on her hog.

“I’ve been going through so much stress in applying to medical school and studying for MCATs, there’s no better way to relieve stress like there is riding a motorcycle in the open sun, especially in California,” Pack, 23, said.

She doesn’t own a huge Harley, rather she has a Honda — “a little bike,” she explained. She lives near the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. “What better place to own a motorcycle?” said Pack, who wants to become a dermatologist.

Miss USA
Miss Alabama Katherine Webb didn’t always feel very good about what she saw in the mirror.

“Growing up was not very easy for me,” Webb, 23, said. “I was tall and lanky. On top of that, I had a skin disorder called vitiligo.” The disorder causes loss of pigment that causes white patches.

“I had a lot of self-confidence and image issues growing up, but over time, I found myself becoming more confident in the way that I looked,” she said. Webb came to believe that being tall wasn’t so bad and she felt better by wearing makeup and using self-tanner.

While struggled with image issues, she grew tough in a family full of boys. She went hunting, fishing and skeet shooting.

“I have my own 12-gauge shotgun and that’s one of my favorite things I like to do, Webb said.

Miss USA
Miss Minnesota Nitaya Panemalaythong is one proud American homeowner.

Of Laotian descent, the 26-year-old was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after her family fled across the Mekong River on a bamboo raft. Soon after, her family moved to the U.S. and she grew up mostly in Minnesota. Life wasn’t easy, and her parents lacked a permanent home for their nine children.

“Growing up in this country, with a very large family, there’s so much responsibility — especially for my parents not really having an education,” Panemalaythong said in her online pageant video. “We all had to just really chip in.”

Panemalaythong’s proudest accomplishment came in 2010, when she and her brother-in-law bought home, where 10 family members now live.

“I’m so happy because I’m now living the American dream,” she said. Miss USA
Miss Alaska Jessica Kazmierczak, 22, spent most of her childhood in a log cabin, without power or running water in small-town Alaska.

“I really grew up the true Alaskan way,” she said. “…Growing up without a TV so I missed all the cartoons when I was little, which was kind of a bummer.”

On the bright side, she and her family never really needed to go to the grocery store, because her mother had a huge garden and her dad was an avid hunter.

“We had a lot of moose meat, caribou meat ... and we always had vegetables,” she said.

Although she couldn’t have play time until she weeded two rows in the garden every day and friends didn’t want to come over because they feared they’d be put to work, she has fond memories of her childhood.

“It was really different, really neat and I appreciate it now looking back,” she explained. Miss USA
Miss Delaware Krista Clausen isn’t quite the woman she used to be.

Feeling unhealthy, Clausen and her family starting working out and cleaning up their diets.

“One thing led to another and I really got going with it,” the 19-year-old said. “I ended up losing 55 pounds and 10 whole pants sizes.”

Now Clausen says her dream job is to be a trainer on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” weight-loss show.

She also has a “dog obsession,” with her yorkie named Bentley. “He’s a person to me,” she says. “I talk to him all the time about everything.” Miss USA
There’s one fear that Miss D.C. Monique Thompkins never outgrew: The 23-year-old has a fear of balloons. “When you’re blowing up a balloon, I’m nowhere around,” Thompkins said. “If you’re tying a balloon, I’m nowhere around. If you’re playing with a balloon, I try to figure out why.”

Today, Thompkins has fond memories of her childhood. Her mom had her when she was very young, so Thompkins’ father took her to live with her grandmother.

“I never really noticed that I came from a broken home,” she said. “I never thought of it that way. It was pretty normal for me.”

Miss USA
Miss South Carolina Erika Powell has been singing since the time she could walk.

“We would have singing time after story time at night on the couch and I would sing ‘Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,’” said Powell, 26.

Now a singer who had her solo debut at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in 2010, she says she’d love to be seen as “the female Josh Groban.”

“If I were to define myself as a singer I would say I’m not an opera singer but a singer who’s heavily influenced by opera,” Powell said.

And with all her talents, she wishes she could do it all.

“If I could be great at one thing I would be in more than one place at one time,” Powell said. “There are tons of things I wish I could do but they all seem to happen at the exact same time so I wish I could clone myself.” Miss USA
If you don’t watch out, Miss KansasGentry Miller just might bedazzle you, too.

Miller loves to craft with rhinestones and “really bedazzle anything I possible can.”

“I have phone cases covered in rhinestones,” Miller, 24, said. “My dog collar is covered in rhinestones.”

And when she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Kansas, the top of her mortar board was tricked out with a rhinestone “G.”

“Really, anything — if it doesn’t move, it’s going to be covered in rhinestones,” she joked. Miss USA
Miss West Virginia Andrea Rogers had an active childhood that unfortunately, wasn’t accident-free.

When she was about 3, she broke her arm after “jumping off a coffee table trying to fly like Batman.” And on the last sledding run of the day one winter, she flipped over and “busted my two front teeth.”

She and her sister were always on the move. “My sister and I pretty much ran our neighborhood,” Rogers, 25, said. “We were either outside roller blading or riding our bikes or sled riding in the wintertime.” Miss USA
Miss Ohio Audrey Bolte earned her nickname in the stables.

Bolte, an equestrienne who began competing at age 6, won an equestrian scholarship to college where she worked with troubled horses.

“They had behavioral issues, they were troubled, they didn’t ride well,” Bolte, 23, said. “The more I worked with them, the better they became. They became so good that anyone could ride them. So I got called ‘The Fixer’ at my college.”

Bolte has loved horses since she was a little girl. “One thing that confused my parents just a little bit about me growing up was that I never wanted to play with dolls. I only wanted to play with hoses,” she said. “So they think I was born with a horse brain.” Miss USA
Miss Utah Kendyl Bell looks good even when sitting in a garbage truck, decked out in a neon safety vest and hard hat. Bell, 25, is the community outreach manager for Republic Services, a garbage company.

“We specialize in garbage and recycling,” Bell said. “We do every aspect of it from pick-up to hauling to disposal. You name it, we do it.

“We are a one-stop shop for all your garbage needs,” she advertised. Miss USA