1988 Miss America Pageant
Pageant Results > Miss America Pageant > 1988
Miss America 1988: Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, Miss Michigan
1st runner-up: Patricia Brandt, Miss Louisiana
2nd runner-up: Stacey James, Miss Nevada
3rd runner-up: LaTonya Hall, Miss Colorado
4th runner-up: Toni Seawright, Miss Mississippi
Miss America 1988 was Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, Miss Michigan, a oncology nurse. She was crowned by outgoing Miss America 1987, Kellye Cash.
Rafko won the swimsuit competition wearing a white one-piece swimsuit and charmed the audience during the talent competition, where she performed a Polynesian-Tahitian belly dance in Polynesian-themed costuming, a towering headdress and grass skirt.
During her reign, Kaye Lani asked to visit hospitals between paid appearances so she could encourage hospitalized children. Her desire to use her year to somehow make a difference in the lives of those who were less fortunate inspired pageant organizers to adopt the use of an official platform for titleholders to advocate during their reigns. That movement was soon adopted at the state and local levels and by other pageant systems worldwide, making Miss America 1988 perhaps the most influential pageant winner of all time.
At the end of her reign, Kaye Lani crowned her successor, Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989, of Minnesota.