Though Essenpreis was crowned Saturday night, television viewers won't see it until July as producers switch to a "reality TV" format. PAX Network (search) camera crews followed the 50 contestants for two weeks leading up to Saturday's contest.
Essenpreis was among five finalists who were given on-the-spot questions tailored to their individual interests. She was asked how she would use the enthusiasm she's displayed as her school's mascot into her planned career as a broadcast journalist.
"I was so nervous," she said after the show. "And the question was so long that by the end of it, I wasn't sure what they were asking me."
Her answer? She'll report on the positive aspects of life while maintaining her personal optimism.
After the contest, Heisman Trophy winner and Junior Miss judge Herschel Walker (search) said he was particularly impressed with Essenpreis' charm and "bubbly" character in her interview last week. Essenpreis won a $50,000 scholarship.