USA Today staff reporter Olivia Barker (2002) wanted to learn about the Miss America pageant from the inside. So, she did the only thing she could do to get the story. Barker, a staff reporter who was 28 years old at the time she worked on the assignment, persuaded officials to allow her to become a participant in the annual contest. Of course, she was not an official contestant, but she was given permission by pageant organizers to take part in two of the nights of preliminary events as a competitor. She was on stage for the talent and evening wear portions of the pageant. She performed a dramatic monologue and was introduced to the audience as a representative of the newspaper. She did not participate in other preliminary events, but she was interviewed by pageant judges. None of her activities were televised, but she was scored by judges like the other 51 women that participated. And, expectedly, she did not do as well as the other women.