Fresno, CALIF. - For Mackenzie Freed, being crowned as Miss California 2018 this June in downtown Fresno, is still hard to believe.
"You saw it happen! You called my name!" says Freed.
"And do you believe it?" CBS47's Joey Horta asks.
"No! Please. I still gotta look down and see that this says what I think that it says," Freed refers to her sash.
She's from the San Joaquin Valley town of Lodi and has been dreaming about competing in the Miss America competition since she was a little girl.
"I know that I am prepared and ready for the job of Miss America," Freed says.
But the national organization is under a cloud of controversy.
The reigning Miss America, Cara Mund accuses organizers of bullying her.
Freed wants to bring the attention back to what the competition is really about.
"We are a professional development organization for women to reach their educational and career goals and that is where our focus should be. It shouldn't be about all of the extraneous things that are going on. It should be about these women that are going to change the world," Freed says.
The organization is the largest scholarship provider for women in the U.S.
Wearing the crown is a full time gig that comes with a lot of perks, like throwing out the first pitch at the Fresno Grizzlies game over the weekend.
"I threw it as hard as I possibly could to where the catcher had to jump to reach it but I didn't bounce it and that's all that matters," Freed says.
Her talent includes singing-- and that's no joke.
"When I actually attempt to be funny it falls flat and then when I'm being 100% serious people are cracking up. (Laughs). Like that," Freed jokes.
She's in it to win it and her valley supporters will be cheering her on every step of the way.
The Miss America competition will happen September 9th.