beauty queens

For beauty pageant winners, the only thing heavier than the tiaras on their heads is the pressure to not screw up.

If they fumble a sentence, skip out on a check or snap some less-than-wholesome photos, the world will know.

Some of these scandalized beauty queens kept their crowns — others gave them up immediately.

Either way, the title expires pretty quickly — so where are they now?

THEN: Vanessa Williams had a nude-photos scandal of the old school variety.

Williams was crowned Miss America in 1983. Months later, Penthouse published photos of her that had been taken before she won the title. Williams resigned immediately.

NOW: It's safe to say she bounced back nicely.

Williams went on to have a successful recording and acting career -- after a starring run on the series 'Ugly Betty,' she joined her current show, 'Desperate Housewives.'

THEN: Carrie Prejean's agenda earned her controversy.

Prejean, Miss California 2009, caused an outrage when she said she opposed gay marriage -- to Perez Hilton, a famous gay blogger and a judge that year. Then, topless photos of Prejean surfaced. The organisation stripped her of her crown, alleging she'd broken several contract agreements.

NOW: A book and a baby.

Prejean later authored a (we assume very inspirational) book on the controversy: Still Standing: The Untold Story of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate, and Political Attacks. She and her husband, Oakland Raiders quarterback Kyle Boller, had their first child, Grace Christina, in May.

THEN: Tara Conner was nearly felled by partying.

Conner, who was Miss USA 2006, tore up the New York City bar scene -- and the media tattled on her. After a firestorm of controversy, Donald Trump (who owns Miss USA) decided to let her keep her title -- as long as she went to rehab.

NOW: The newly sober Conner pops up here and there.

She was a contestant on the CMT country-singing competition 'Gone Country,' and judged last year's Miss USA competition. She's also an ambassador for Caron, the Pennsylvania rehab facility she was treated at.

THEN: Lauren Upton was immortalised for her bumbling political rhetoric.

Said the 2007 Miss South Carolina Teen USA: 'I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uha people out there in our nation don't have maps, and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., err, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future.'

NOW: Upton flies under the radar via her middle name.

Going as 'Caite Upton,' she competed on 'The Amazing Race 16' and appeared in one of Weezer's music videos. Oh yeah, and she got a modelling contract with Trump Model Management.

THEN: A blackmailer disrputed Amy Polumbo's reign.

Polumbo, Miss New Jersey 2007, was targeted by a blackmailer who threatened to release 'personal pictures' of her if she didn't relinquish her crown. The photos turned out to be no big deal -- which prompted the public to cry publicity stunt.

NOW: Polumbo has worked at a Tennessee school for deaf children -- and as a waitress at Brother Jimmy's BBQ in Manhattan.

THEN: Laura Zuniga got busted on big-time charges.

Zuniga, who was crowned Miss Hispanic America 2008, was arrested on charges of racketeering and drug trafficking when she and friends were caught with a cache of weapons and $35,000 cash. Zuniga is rumoured to be the girlfriend of a powerful Mexican drug lord.

NOW: Zuniga is back on the catwalk.

She served 40 days in jail but was released and cleared in the case. Now, she's a runway model in Mexico.

THEN: Lindsey Evans dined and dashed.

The 2008 Miss Teen Louisiana USA and her friends ditched a $46 check but -- whoops! -- forgot to bring along Evans's purse, in which cops found a baggie of pot.

NOW: Evans later posed for Playboy.

So there you go.

THEN: Katie Rees got into hot water after acting wild in a club.

Rees, who was Miss Nevada USA in 2007, allegedly exposed herself and groped other women at a Florida nightclub. Then, her pictures popped up on an escort service website. Her title was revoked.

NOW: Rees is still up to no good.

She was arrested for assaulting a police officer in 2008 and featured on a reality show in 2009. Unfortunately, the reality show was about people acting shady while trying to enter Australia through customs. Rees was a subject investigated by the stars.

Now check out the best and brashest Weinergate headlines.

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