Our new Miss Washington, Abbie Kondel of Brush Prairie, is looking forward to a year of making clear, sharp points after a little confusion broke out during her coronation at the end of a Saturday pageant at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington hotel in Renton.
For starters, Kondel wasn’t sure the judges really meant her when they announced that Miss Clark County was this year’s winner. That’s because of slightly wonky Miss Washington rules that don’t let you reign over the same county twice in a row; after winning Miss Clark County in 2017, Kondel had to go at-large, and wound up Miss Rainier and runner-up for Miss Washington in 2018.
This year, Kondel said, it took her a moment to remember that Miss Clark County meant her — and she’d really taken top honors this time.
“I felt so blessed and loved by all the sisters standing there,” she said.
That was extra nice to feel, she added, because her sash went on upside-down and her crown faced backwards at first. “It was all pretty hilarious,” as you can see from the photos of her sisters struggling to set those royal accessories right while the good-spirited Kondel cracks up.
Now, the 21-year-old plans to get serious with a busy schedule of personal appearances to talk about the perils of addiction — and maybe add a little fancy footwork, too.
Kondel’s featured pageant talent is tap dancing, something she’s been loving to do since she started studying with her dancing mother at age 3, she said, and something she still studies in the dance department at Brigham Young University in Utah. She is a pre-med major and headed into her senior year — but she will be taking a year off in order to travel the state as Miss Washington.
Kondel’s public project, or “social impact initiative,” is speaking out against addiction. “Be Smart, Don’t Start” is her project title, and that’s the message she’ll be delivering around the state, using videos and other content developed by Educational Service District 113, located in Tumwater.
Her motivation for that comes from her family history, she said. Her great-grandfather was “lost to drinking and driving” when her grandfather was just 15, she said, and he struggled with alcoholism his whole life. Both of her maternal great-grandparents were heavy smokers who died too young of lung cancer, she said.
“You can see how people’s lives and later generations are affected by their choices,” Kondel said. “You can see how addiction has affected my family.”
Across her years of participation, Kondel said, she’s won around $20,000 in scholarship money, allowing her to attend college debt-free. Now she’s headed for the Miss America pageant in September in Atlantic City, N.J.
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