Raleigh, N.C. — The judges chose Miss Garner as the new Miss North Carolina, while the outgoing queen was honored by the state for her community service work on Saturday night.
Amanda Lauren Watson, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was crowned at Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium.
"It was breathtaking," Watson said in a Sunday morning interview with WRAL News. "Everyone said I looked like I was going to faint, but I'm hoping it looked more enjoyable."
Pageant officials said Watson impressed them with her work as a national spokeswoman for the ALS Association, which serves people living with Lou Gehrig's Disease.
"My grandfather and great-grandfather lost their lives to that disease," Watson said.
Last year, she lobbied Congress to pass an appropriations bill that would create an ALS registry.
As Miss North Carolina, Watson said she will promote the Children's Miracle Network and work to "get a younger generation (aware) to the fact that ALS does not just affect older people; it affects everyone."
Watson also won the contest's Community Service Award and placed in a three-way tie for the swimsuit competition. She sang "We Shall Behold Him" in the talent competition.
She will next compete in the national Miss America pageant in Las Vegas, Nev., in early 2009 and plans to keep working towards a masters degree in music education from UNC.
"I'm excited. January will come very fast," Watson said.
Meanwhile, the former Miss North Carolina, Jessica Jacobs handed over her crown but took home a state award for her work to promote childhood literacy.
June Atkinson, superintendent of public instruction, presented The Old North State Award to Jacobs. The Governor's Office hands out that honor to individuals with a record of giving significant and positive service to their state and community.
"I was really shocked and thrilled to be honored in such a way," Jacobs said. "It has been such an honor to have worked with all these kids this year."
For her "Read to Me" program, Jacobs traveled more than 60,000 miles and gave away 280,000 books to 30,000 children across the state in the past year.
Jacobs, a UNC graduate, will continue to work towards a masters degree in organizational communications from North Carolina State University.
The first runner-up behind Watson was Miss UNC-Pembroke, Jamee Hunt, followed by Miss Mount Holly, Katherine Southard; Miss Central Carolina, Rasheeda Waddell; and Miss Statesville, Kaitlin Cook.
Cook also won the Miss Congeniality title, and Southard earned the Miracle Maker Award, given to the contestant who raises the most money for the Children's Miracle network. Miss Thomasvile, Jenna Kindley, won the Academic Achievement Award.