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'Something in the water''

Southern Oregon enters the beauty pageant spotlight once again with the crowning of a Medford woman as Miss Oregon USA

Miss USA state pageant organizers are starting to wonder if there might be something in the water in the Rogue Valley.

Putting Southern Oregon in the pageant spotlight yet again, after several successes in recent years, Medford resident Allison Nicole Machado was crowned Miss Oregon USA last weekend in Bend.

You guys must have some good water down there, said Carol Lukens, spokesperson for Miss Oregon USA.

Southern Oregon has had, in the last four years, two Miss Oregon and one Miss Teen Oregon who went on to Miss Teen USA.

A Medford resident and product of Phoenix-Talent schools, Machado, 23, is a medical assistant at the Medford Medical Clinic and serves as a surgical scrub for Medford plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Jensen.

— A relative newcomer to pageants, Machado's first attempt resulted in her being named in September as first runner-up in this year's Miss Southern Oregon pageant.

Urged by the mother of the local Miss Teen USA winner Tami Farrell, I thought it'd be a great personal challenge for me, so I decided to go for it, Machado said. When I won I almost couldn't believe it. I was completely stunned.

Machado, whose platform will center around women's health care, said she didn't grow up dreaming to be a beauty queen.

I grew up with five little brothers (now age 15 to 22), so I grew up in a very non-glamorous setting. I had to learn to be a lady all on my own, she said with a laugh, but adding that she didn't change who she is for the pageant.

Just as pageants are a first for Machado, her American Indian heritage as a descendant of Oklahoma's Kiowa tribe is a first for the state pageant.

Lukens said Machado's natural and inner beauty and her megawatt smile likely caught judges' attention at the Miss Oregon USA title.

The Miss Universe Organization, which produces Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, is a partnership between Donald Trump and NBC Television. All its pageants judge contestants using three measures: an interview, and swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

Lukens said Machado could very well go all the way in the Miss Universe system.

She's very fresh. She'd never been in a beauty pageant before and she beat girls who are very seasoned beauty pageant contestants, Lukens said.

And she looked like she could win and be Miss Universe. That's our goal ' for Oregon to have a Miss Universe ' and Allison definitely has what it takes to be our first Miss USA from Oregon and then Miss Universe.

Machado joins the swelling ranks of Southern Oregonians who have been crowned at either the state or national level for Miss USA.

In 2004, Phoenix resident Tami Farrell was crowned Miss Oregon Teen USA and went on to take the title of Miss Teen USA.

Months later, Medford resident Jennifer Murphy was crowned Miss Oregon USA (2004) and was named a runner up for Miss USA. Murphy recently competed on Donald Trump's television show, The Apprentice.

Alongside Machado this year, 16-year-old Rogue Valley teen Jade Stevens was first runner up for Miss Teen Oregon.

Machado will contend for the Miss USA title in Baltimore on her birthday, April 21. Her next local appearances will be Jacksonville's Victorian Christmas Parade tonight, and the Festival of Trees in Medford this weekend.

Allison Nicole Machado, of Medford, has been crowned Miss Oregon USA.