With her long, dark hair swept to the side, Katherine Anna Connors poses seductively on a large bed, wearing only black lingerie and an unbuttoned men’s dress shirt.
Yep, this is a black-and-white photo of the 20-year-old Bettendorf woman who will represent Iowa on Sunday in the Miss USA Pageant in Las Vegas.
And, no, she’s not in trouble for it.
The photo is part of a series of sexy “glam shot” portraits taken of Miss USA contestants and released this week by the Miss Universe Organization, parent of the Miss USA Pageant — spurring a lot of gasps and “You’ve got to look at this” comments all over the country.
Connors — whose pose had earned her an online viewer rating of 2.02 out of 5 stars as of Tuesday afternoon at www.missuniverse.com/missusa — could not be reached for comment. Neither could her parents, Daniel and Carol Connors of Bettendorf.
Some critics say the series borders on soft pornography and that pageant officials released it only to spark controversy and get more television viewers. The event is set to air at 6 p.m. Sunday on NBC.
But the Miss Universe Organization, run by Donald Trump, is making no apologies.
“We are in the business of beauty, and the contestants who compete for the title of Miss USA are not afraid to be sexy,” Lark-Marie Anton, the Miss Universe Organization’s vice president of marketing and public relations, said in an e-mail. “These ladies are the full package — smart, accomplished, relevant and sexy.”
Connors qualified to compete in the Miss USA Pageant after winning the Iowa USA Pageant in December in Ames. The winner of the Miss USA Pageant will advance to compete in the Miss Universe competition.
The 2007 graduate of Davenport Assumption High School was quoted in a Quad-City Times story soon after her win in Ames about how much she has learned through pageant competition.
“I can now get on a stage and talk in front of people,” Connors said. “If you would have asked me to do that a few years ago, that wouldn’t have been the case … I’m really comfortable with being in front of people.”