A 21-year old graduate of Chapman University won the Miss California contest Saturday night at Fresno's Saroyan Theatre.
Noelle Freeman of Carlsbad competed as Miss Culver City. She said she didn't even hear her name called as the winner of the 86th Miss California Pageant.
"I was thinking, when are they going to call my name?" Freeman explained. "They called the fourth runner up and I was expecting to hear my name. They called the first runner up, and they don't really ever say my name because everyone's cheering and I don't really hear it. So I just thought, is the crown being put on my head right now? Is this the sash? I was just in total shock. I wasn't expecting it at all."
The contest started with 59 contestants, which was narrowed down to 12 and then five finalists. Freeman says she approached this pageant differently than previous competitions.
"This year, as a recent graduate I had a lot going for me. Although I wanted it (to win), I understood what I was going to be doing as Miss California. I wasn't desperate for it. I think that came across on stage."
Freeman didn't do well in any of the preliminary competitions, and she says she was shocked that she won. She will go on to compete in the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas in January. Freeman's talent was ballet en pointe to Black Swan and her platform was "A Promising Future for Autism." She graduated from Chapman University in June with degrees in communications and advertising/public relations. As Miss California, she will receive a $10,000 scholarship. She says she plans to pursue a master's degree.