After Sex Scandal, New Del. Teen Queen Feels 'Lucky'

By: USA Today Email
By: USA Today Email

(USA Today) -- The new Miss Delaware Teen USA has been very busy the last few days.

Hailey Lawler, a 17-year-old senior at Padua Academy, has been keeping up with her classes. As a captain of the school's soccer team, she's also preparing for the start of the season Friday. Then there's her hostess job at a local pizzeria.

Now, she'll be representing her state since the Miss Universe Organization named her to replace Melissa King, who resigned her crown Tuesday after facing questions about an online sex video claiming to star her.

"I was in complete shock and just didn't know what to say because ... I wasn't expecting it really at all," Lawler said from her home in Nonantum Mills, near Newark. "I'm just excited and looking forward to representing Delaware."

Last November, Lawler was first runner-up in the Miss Delaware Teen USA competition -- the first time she'd participated in a pageant. Lawler said it was discouraging when she didn't get the crown.

"But everything happens for a reason and I've now learned that," she said.

King, 18, of the Bethany Beach area, told The News Journal on Monday she was not the woman in the sex video.

She could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but she was posting on her Twitter page, thanking supporters and leaving such tweets as, "God wouldn't give you something that you couldn't handle."

On Wednesday, TMZ reported King had been offered $250,000 by another porn site to promote it.

Her attorney, J. Gregory Hannigan of Hagerstown, Md., has said a comment would be forthcoming, but did not say when that would be.

Lawler's new title was made official Wednesday by the Miss Universe Organization, which oversees the teen competition. Pageant officials declined to comment on King's resignation, but they were positive for Lawler.

"We cannot wait to see what this year has in store for Hailey as she embarks on a most remarkable journey," state Directors Deborah Miller and Cynthia Provost said in a statement. "We know she will make us proud as she goes on to compete for the title of Miss Teen USA 2013 in the summer."

Lawler lives at home with her parents, Adam and Suzanne. Her older sister, Miranda, is away at college.

"We know that this is a really exciting time for her and an opportunity of a lifetime, so we're supportive and wish her nothing but the best," Suzanne Lawler said.

Lawler's soccer coach, Joe Brown, said he was excited for her.

"She'll do a great job representing Delaware," Brown said.

Lawler has incredible character, Brown said, which is one of the reasons she is a captain on the varsity soccer team.

"I wish her tremendous, tremendous best wishes from our coaching staff on her new journey as Miss Teen Delaware," Brown said.

Lawler plans to attend Philadelphia's St. Joseph's University this fall to pursue a career in elementary education.

She also wants to get involved in the community as a volunteer, in particular with special education and Special Olympics.

Lawler admitted the recent attention has been somewhat overwhelming.

"Just because I'm not used to being in the spotlight," she said. "Other than that, it's normal. I'm a normal person. This is just something that has come along and I'm just lucky to have this opportunity."

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