Meet Five Former Pageant Queens Who 'MADE' It Big!

As anyone who's seen Miss Congeniality knows, Miss United States isn't a beauty pageant ... it's a scholarship fund. And for these five women, walking away with the crown (and a hefty chunk of pocket change!) was just the beginning. In honor of today's MADE, read up on a few high profile ladies who used their pageant success to jump-start their careers!

If you followed the 2008 presidential elections, you might remember that Sarah Palin's got some old pageant gowns gathering dust in her closet. The former Miss Wasilla placed third in the Miss Alaska pageant in 1984, then went on to become Governor of Alaska (and VP nominee, don'tcha know)!

Broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer also has the distinction of being a teen pageant queen! The budding newswoman won the America's Junior Miss crown in 1962, and used the scholarship money to pay for her college education. (We're betting she aced the interview portion.)

Although you probably know her best from her Basic Instinct/ice pick-wielding days, Sharon Stone first emerged as a local beauty queen. The future sexpot was Spring Festival Queen of her hometown and 1976 Miss Crawford County. Oh, and did we mention her IQ's 154?

Before she was the most famous/powerful talk show host in the world (planet? universe??), Oprah Winfrey was queen of the pageant world! The soon-to-be superstar was Miss Fire Prevention in 1971 and Miss Black Tennessee in 1972. And that's no "secret".

Sure, she's a household name (and an Academy Award winner) now ... but back in the day, Halle Berry was all about the beauty pageants. This former Miss Ohio (and one-time Bond girl!) was first runner-up to Miss USA in 1986. You know what they say: from Cleveland with love!

+ We know, we know, we left off about a million names (like Vanessa Williams, Paula Zahn, and Michelle Pfeiffer)! So if we forgot your fave former beauty queens, add 'em in the comments!