Sarah Palin and the Miss America Scholarship Fund

The former beauty queen thanked Ann Hand for donating.

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

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.

Hand, known for outfitting Washington's elite with large Americana designs featuring eagles that are popular on both sides of the aisle, tells us she found Palin "even prettier in person." And that's without seeing her in Hand's jewels, though we hear that the former Miss Wasilla, who normally sports Alaska-shaped earrings, does have some of the jeweler's handiwork. That's because Cindy McCain gave her a Hand "Army" pin for their presidential campaign, during which Palin's son Track was sent to Iraq to serve with an Army unit.

Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR

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