Miss Hawaii Malika Dudley blew a kiss after being named the pageant's Miss Congeniality.
Miss Hawaii earns congeniality title
Malika Dudley is the first to earn a pageant award in 32 years
Miss Hawaii Malika Dudley is generous, helpful, energetic and uplifting.
Dudley's fellow contestants at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas showered those accolades on the Hilo native when they voted her to be Miss Congeniality.
They also said Dudley has an addictive smile and puts a smile on other people's faces.
"I feel so honored," Dudley said in a telephone interview from Nevada. "Really, to me it feels better than having won the crown."
The University of Hawaii at Manoa graduate student won a $2,000 scholarship with the award.
The 52 contestants vote for who they believe most deserves to be Miss Congeniality and write down the reasons for the pageant organizers.
Dudley was the first to win the award in 32 years because the Miss America pageant had discontinued it. The Miss Hawaii for 1974, Coline-Helen Kanaloku Aiu, was the last person to win the title.
According to the Miss Hawaii Organization Web site, the 50th state boasts the record for most Miss Congeniality winners. Seven won the title before Dudley, starting with Yun Tau Zane in 1948.
Dudley said Hawaii's track record shouldn't be a surprise.
"I don't think it's a coincidence that Hawaii has Miss Congeniality because everyone in Hawaii exudes that spirit -- so generous and kind. We just all just grow up with that kind of a personality. I'm honored to be part of the tradition that seems to be occurring here," she said.
Dudley will be able to show some more aloha to her fellow contestants if they visit the islands for a reunion. The contestants have been talking about holding a get-together though no plans are set yet, Dudley said.