Louis Cardinals Winter Warm Up for local charities, AIDS Foundation, Special Olympics in St. She joined Barbara Webster (Miss Missouri 1983 and Miss Missouri USA 1986) and Robin Elizabeth Riley (Miss Missouri 1987 and Miss Missouri USA 1983) as qualifiers to both of the nationally televised beauty pageants.
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On 18 November 2000, Finnessey won the Miss Jackson title in the Miss Missouri system and finished 2nd runner-up to Jennifer Hover in the 3 – 9 June 2001 Miss Missouri pageant held in Mexico, Missouri. Louis Metro local title in the Miss Missouri system and went on to win the 2002 Miss Missouri title, succeeding Hover.
She won the contest despite having slammed her hand in a car door that weekend.
Her final question was whether experience or education serves a person better in life to which she answered "Definitely experience because you get your knowledge through experience." She competed on the platform of integrating people with mental challenges into society.
In the nationally televised pageant, she became the first woman from Missouri to win the Miss USA title.