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Julia Anderson crowned the winner of ABC's 'True Beauty' competition

By John Bracchitta, 02/24/2009 

Julia Anderson proved that consistency can pay off, as the 23-year-old magician's assistant from Dallas, TX was crowned as "America's Most Beautiful Person" during ABC's Monday night broadcast of the finale of its True Beauty beauty competition.

Julia, a former Miss Teen Texas champion who had relinquished the title after being cited for public intoxification at the age of 17, was ecstatic after being named the winner of the competition and hoped it would help lead to correcting the mistakes she made when she was younger.

"This is definitely the second chance that I've always wanted and I finally found true beauty, I did it," she said. "I finally found myself and I won the competition. I feel like a winner in every way possible, honestly."

While Julia did not win any of True Beauty's physical challenges, she was the only one of the show's ten contestants to pass all eight of the show's secret challenges that were intended to grade the different aspects of each contestant's "inner beauty." Prior to the final ceremony at the show's Hall of Beauty elimination gallery, the contestants were told of the show's twist after thinking that they would only be judged on their "outer beauty."

As the competition's winner, Julia won a $100,000 cash prize as well as an interview and pictorial of her in the upcoming "Most Beautiful People" issue of People magazine.

Joel Rush, a 26-year-old imaging software salesman from Tampa, FL, came in second place in the competition.

"When I started this competition I had an unpredictable nature. I only knew how to go at a competition one way, and that was aggressive [and] intense," he said. "I felt that I did everything that I could do to win. This has been the opportunity of my lifetime. I have no regrets.

Billy Jeffrey, a 31-year-old vitamin store owner from Lewiston, ID followed in third place.

"Coming to the realization that I'm not in first place, it's a little bit disappointing, but what I've learned about myself, how do you look at that as a negative?" Billy asked. "I just don't see it as losing."

True Beauty's finale episode began with Joel returning from the Hall of Beauty after learning he had made it into the Top 3 while Laura Leigh had been eliminated. While choosing to ignore that he had nearly been eliminated by the judges, Joel instead dwelled on the positive and liked his chances going into the finale.

"The judges have always been impressed with my looks, so that's a huge advantage going into the Final 3 where this is still a beauty competition at the end of the day," he said.

Back at the house, Billy and Julia awaited to see who would return from the Hall of Beauty. Julia, wanting to be the only girl left in the competition, was not shy in her support for Joel to return of Laura.

"It's not so much that I want Joel to come back, it's that I don't want Laura to come back because I wanna be the last girl standing in that house," she said. "The one girl that was left representing all the girls across America, that would be an honor."

Upon returning to the house, Joel was greeted by Billy and Julia but declined to have any celebration and instead chose to focus on winning the competition.

"If I don't win the title of America's Most Beautiful Person, I would consider this entire journey to be a failure," he said. "I know that I'm more beautiful than anybody else that has walked through this door."

The next day the three remaining contestants were brought to a studio where they met with True Beauty host Vanessa Minnillo and were told that they would be meeting People magazine executive editor Jess Cagle for an interview before taking part in a photo shoot with photographer Matthew Rolston in which they were told they would only be wearing a towel.

Perhaps referencing her troubled past after she was crowned Miss Teen Texas, Julia expressed some worry that doing a nude photo shoot could come back to haunt her in her pageant career.

"I normally would not do a nude photo shoot. I want to be Miss Texas, I want to be Miss America, and you have to be very careful about what you do, because you're a role model," she said. "Taking nude photos  doesn't exactly exemplify a role model in my eyes."

Joel had a completely different mind set entering the challenge.

"Whatever the case may be I'm completely comfortable with that," he said. "My entire workout regimen is to look good naked, and I've completed my mission there."

However, unbeknownst to the contestants, Vanessa and the show's other judges Nole Marin and Cheryl Tiegs revealed to home viewers that Jess would be serving as a secret guest judge and be testing the contestants' grace under pressure, humility and modesty.

While Joel came off as passionate in his interview, he ultimately failed the challenge after showing no humility and explaining that the reason he had no unattractive friends was because "When you run with dogs you get fleas."

While Julia's answers sometimes came across as rehearsed and not genuine, she passed her challenge after openly discussing her public intoxification citation and convincing Jess that she genuinely not vain and just felt it was important to "take pride in what you look like."

Billy passed the challenge as well, speaking openly about his troubles with acne as a child and giving a good, if not slightly rehearsed, interview to Jess.

The contestants then took part in their photo shoots, in which they wore only a towel and were covered in oil. Ever the optimist, Joel was quite pleased with himself following his shoot.

"I don't wanna rub it in Julia's face or rub it in Billy's face, but I killed that photo shoot," he said.

While initially worried about the shoot, Julia calmed down by the time of the shoot, calling it the "opportunity of a lifetime" and saying that she "enjoyed every minute of it."

Billy utilized a special breathing process to extenuate his abs, impressing the photographer. Following the shoot, Billy said he felt that all three finalists were evenly matched and there was no frontrunner in the competition.

"Is Joel major competition to me? Definitely. Is Julia just as big a competition? Definitely," he said. "We are all going into this thing even."

The judges apparently agreed with Billy's assessment of the Final 3. After Nole complimented Billy on his "incredible abs," Cheryl gushed over Joel's great body and eyes and called his picture "powerful yet inviting," and Vanessa complimented Julia's ability to make a sexy nude photo also seem "soft and inviting," the judges surprised the contestants by revealing that all three contestants had "won" the challenge.

"We could not pick a winner from these fantastic photos, it was just too close to call," she said. However she added that because no one had won the challenge that all three contestants would also be heading to the Hall of Beauty where two of them would be eliminated and only one would be revealed to be "America's Most Beautiful Person."

After returning to the house and preparing for their final meeting with the judges in the Hall of Beauty, the final three contestants received a second shock when they found an unexpected note in the kitchen.

The note instructed the contestants to head downstairs into a room they had previously not been allowed to into, and once they were in the room they learned that it was the secret "spy room" where the judges had been monitoring the contestants' actions. After taking a seat in the chairs, each contestant laughed nervously as a "highlight" reel of each contestant's ugliest moments were shown on the screens.

Once the clips were over, each humiliated contestant defended themselves and tried to justify some of their actions -- perhaps none so much as Joel.

"If you put a magnifying glass over somebody's life and then highlight only the negative parts, than there's no way that gives you an accurate view of who I am as a man," Joel said. "You've seen me interact with people enough to know that I'm not this negative person. "I don't understand why the clips are making [me out to be] this negative monster that I'm not."

The following day before leaving for the Hall of Beauty, Julia changed her tune somewhat regarding the show's hidden cameras. After initially being embarrassed by some of the more personal moments that may have been picked up by the cameras, Julia said that she was not frustrated by having the cameras monitor her at all anymore.

"I've been myself, and honestly I don't I have anything to hide," she said. "I mean I hate that they had to see me without makeup, but other than that I'm happy about it."

After deliberating about who to crown the competition's winner, the judges decided that the Final 3 could be categorized into three distinct types of people.

"One of them has more inner beauty, one of them has more outer beauty and one of them is the entire package," Vanessa said.

After convening with the judges in the Hall of Beauty, each contestant was given one last chance to plead their case as to why they should be crowned "America's Most Beautiful Person."

I might not have been the strongest in each challenge, but I found a real person behind that permanent smile, behind that wall I had built up my entire life," Julia said. "So thank you all and thanks everybody."

"From the very first day of the competition I've said I'm the best overall mix of looks, personality and overall positive energy to enter a room. I still believe that same thing today because of the changes that I've made over the past eight weeks," Joel said after Julia. "The three of you have shown me that I have flaws and where I used to not own them, I now own those flaws and you've allowed me to be the true definition of the most beautiful person in America and I think you from the bottom of my heart for that."

Billy was the last of the contestants to speak to the judges.

"This whole entire competition all three of you kept saying 'you're doing great but there's still something you're missing," Billy said, "What I've been missing is confidence, and you helped me find it. I know I'm a beautiful person and I want to continue my quest to help people find the beauty in themselves, and that's what I've always wanted to do. I just  needed too have it for myself, now I do."

Following the Final 3 contestants' statements, Vanessa revealed that Julia had won the competition, while Joel had finished as the runner up while Billy finished in third place.

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