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Miss Missouri comes home
ORAN, Mo. -- A week before the biggest night of her life, Miss Missouri Amber Seyer of Oran said she got a sign that it wasn't her time to be crowned.
As a devout Catholic, she reads from a prayer book every day during Lent. While preparing for the Miss USA pageant in Los Angeles last week, she couldn't resist flipping ahead in the book to see what the prayer was for March 23, the day of the pageant.
The 20-year-old aspiring beauty queen didn't need to read between the lines to understand the prayer's message that day.
"Lord, I need you today, things aren't going as planned. But I know that you will continue to fulfill my purpose in life," read the prayer.
Seyer took the bad news in stride, saying she felt blessed just to be part of the event.
"I had four days to prepare myself for not winning. And it was funny because the day I read that prayer was the first time I had seen my family in 15 or 16 days. And I read it to them and they were like, 'No, no, that's not what it means,' and I said, 'Yes it is, but it's OK because I have very strong faith in God and I do think that he has plans for me,'" she said.
Today, Seyer is home taking a week to relax in Oran after nearly a month in Los Angeles. The Seyer family home is a one-story ranch-style house with a big front porch and a carved, wooden pig mounted on the mailbox. The animal is emblematic of a no-frills family that makes a living as pig farmers.
And after a childhood learning how to handle herself elbow-deep in pig guts, Seyer said she was never in danger of being starstruck by her time in Hollywood.
"That's just not me," she said.
But Seyer does have a competitive streak. She survived the first two rounds of eliminations to be among the final 10 contestants.
And she still wonders why she didn't fare as well in the evening gown or swimsuit competition. She scored an 8.4 of a possible 10.0 in the swimsuit round for ninth place, and she scored an 8.032 in the evening gown round, which also earned ninth place.
She said most of the placement came down to genetics.
"It seemed like the judges didn't like a fit, toned body. And that's OK. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A body type I might not necessarily like, they obviously wanted," she said.
"There was nothing I could do about it. I couldn't get curvier. I couldn't be voluptuous out there. Those are just the cards I was dealt, and that's OK."
She says her main concern during the pageant was remembering which spot on the stage she needed to hit and which camera to face.
"First of all my eyesight is not very good and second of all there is no way I'm looking for that red light on that camera. You're spinning and twirling on that stage, you're hoping your smile is OK. ... It was intense."
And when the host announced the top five contestants and didn't name Seyer, she wasn't upset.
"Everyone says you should have done better, but no, I don't think that. I was the only girl backstage who didn't make top five without tears in my eyes ... I was like, Wow, I did great, I need to throw myself a party. It's time for me to go home and say, 'Mom, Dad, did I make you proud?' And I know that I did."
Seyer got more exposure from the pageant than nearly all of the other contestants. She was selected to participate in a special episode of the NBC game show "Identity," hosted by Penn Jillette. In the game show, contestants are asked to match people with their profession in order to win prize money.
Seyer presented contestants with a particularly difficult match because by looks alone it is hard to imagine the 5'9" blond has ever worked as a pig farmer.
"I can tell you how to butcher a hog because we butcher hogs every December and January at Seyer Farms," she said.
"First you have to kill it, then you have to slit it, let it bleed, hang it upside down. It's a whole long process."
Although she said appearing on the show was a blast, she wished someone would have turned up the thermostat in the studio. Seyer and the other girls shivered through the four-hour taping.
"My nose was running. Every time they went to commercial break they ran out with blankets, I mean, we were standing there in swimsuits, so you couldn't really get any less clothing than a swimsuit. We were freezing, and we were in heels. It was the most fabulous miserable experience of my life," she said.
Other pageant events included tickets to an L.A. Lakers game, an L.A. Kings game and a celebrity basketball event with autistic children.
But nothing beat meeting Donald Trump, the owner of the pageant. Seyer said it reminded her of scenes in "The Devil Wears Prada," when models scurried around and try to look their best in front of demanding designer played by Meryl Streep.
After the pageant, Trump singled Seyer out for praise.
"He came up on stage and he found me and turned me around and said, 'You know, I've got to say I was disappointed not to see you in my top five.' So that's satisfaction I'll carry with me the rest of my life," she said.
Seyer is optimistic the connections and exposure she received at Miss USA will translate into career opportunities. She said she'd like to do international modeling. Though she wouldn't discuss the details of offers, she said one possibility is modeling in Japan.
No matter what, she pledges not to be changed by fame.
"I'll be happy either way. I'll be happy just to stay in Oran and be the hometown girl because I'm happy here, you know. My home is where my heart is," she said.
A newcomer to the small town of Oran doesn't have to look long or hard before finding a fan and relative of Seyer's. Lawrence Seyer, a retired railroad worker, was in Eftink Hardware Wednesday buying wasp killer.
He watched the pageant on TV and beamed with pride when asked about Amber, his great-niece.
"From the time she was a little girl on up, she's always had such a wonderful personality," he said. "She never meets a stranger. She's also got a set of the prettiest teeth you'll ever see."
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