July 14, 2014 11:41:30 AM
VICKSBURG -- Experience and persistence paid off Saturday night when Jasmine Murray of Columbus was crowned Miss Mississippi 2014 at the Vicksburg Convention Center.
The crowning of Murray, 22, competing in the pageant as Miss Riverland, culminated four days of competition, complete with high-energy performances by contestants along with local dancers and singers.
Murray will compete in the Miss America Pageant on Sept. 14 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the first time in eight years the pageant will return to its longtime home.
As the winner of the pageant, Murray was awarded a $10,000 scholarship.
While a high school student at the Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven, Murray competed on the eighth season of "American Idol" in 2008, making it to the top 13.
This year's Miss Mississippi Pageant was the third in a row for Murray. She was the first runner-up in 2012.
"I'm just so excited and thankful for this opportunity right now," Murray said moments after being crowned. "It's such an honor to represent my state, and it's a privilege. I look forward to promoting my platform, '13 Going on 30: Teaching Girls to Embrace Their Age' on a bigger scale."
Finishing in the Top Five Saturday night along with Murray were:
n First runner-up: Miss Mississippi State University Laura Lee Lewis
n Second runner-up: Miss Historic South Randi-Kathryn Harmon
n Third runner-up: Miss Deep South Caroline Conerly
n Fourth runner-up: Miss North Central Mississippi Jessica Terrill
Rounding out the top 10 were Miss Delta Blues Shelby Corn, Miss Dixie Carol Coker, Miss Rankin County Morgan Burnett, Miss Turtle Creek Jordin Johnson and Miss University Anna Beth Higginbotham.
As the fan favorite, Miss Heart of the South CeCe Hillman took home the Mississippi Choice Award. Harmon won the Quality of Life Scholarship.
Outgoing Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick had words of wisdom for her successor.
"My advice to (Murray) is to just cherish every encounter with every Mississippian because everyone has something unique to offer. And it's a blessing just to encounter Mississippi in its truest form along your travels, and that's what I enjoyed so much."
The Miss Mississippi Pageant has been held in Vicksburg since 1959.