For Andrea Bailey, the fifth time was the charm.
The former Miss Augusta and current Miss Savannah finally broke through in her fifth attempt to win the crown of Miss Georgia 2003 Saturday night in Columbus.
The 59th annual pageant started Wednesday in the Bill Heard Theatre of the Columbus RiverCentre.
Ms. Bailey, daughter of Stan and Janet Bailey, of Evans, prevailed over 45 other contestants. The Evans High School graduate will compete for the Miss America title in Atlantic City, N.J., in September.
The Georgia State University graduate won three preliminary contests, including the talent competition, the evening gown preliminary, and lifestyle and fitness.
"After I won a couple of the events, I felt that I had a pretty good chance," she said in a telephone interview from Columbus. "But ... with the past I knew not to count my chickens before they hatched. Being my last year of eligibility, I just wanted to have a good time. But when they called my name I started crying. It made me realize how much I wanted this."
She has received close to $40,000 in scholarships in five years, including $15,000 for winning this year's title.
For the past three years, the 24-year-old has been the runner-up.
"The first time wasn't bad because I was so excited to be there," she said. "The next two times were a little more disappointing. But you learn so much more through your disappointments than your successes."
The Savannah resident works as an account executive at Clear Channel Communications. However, she has to put her job on hold and move to Columbus to prepare for the Miss America pageant.
"It's going to be a busy year working and touring as Miss Georgia," she said. "I'm told it's going to be the best year of my life."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Reach Jonathan Heeter at (706) 823-3224.
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