Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry didn't hear her name announced the day she won.
"In those days, they announced the runner up first, so you were the last one standing," Henry said.
The win, she said, was a "phenomenal feeling."
"But a very real reality sets in about the magnitude of what has happened," she said.
She took the year to promote her platform of helping veterans and today that work is still very much a part of her daily life.
Henry was 24 when she won the crown and today at 38 she volunteers her time to continue the effort.
The Heather French Foundation for Veterans offers support services to veterans, anything from finding the right contacts at the Department of Veterans Affairs and filling out healthcare forms to helping finding housing assistance.
The organization even offers prostate cancer screenings for thousands of veterans each year.
Henry, who graduated with a bachelor's and master's degree in design, also has a full-time job as a clothing designer selling gowns, ranging from pageant wear to cocktail dresses, in about 100 retail stores around the country.
"Miss America provides a plethora of opportunities that last a lifetime," Henry said.
But that opportunity, she said, also comes with a responsibility to represent Miss America well.
"In the first two minutes of any appearance, you have to destroy the myth of what a beauty queen is," she said.