Known for her beauty pageant titles of Miss USA 2004, Miss Missouri USA 2004, and Miss Missouri 2002, she was also the first runner-up in the 2004 Miss Universe competition. She went on to host several programs on the Game Show Network.
After being a teenage victim of verbal bullying, she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from Lindenwood University.
She penned an acclaimed 2012 children's book titled The Furrtails.
She and her three brothers grew up in Missouri as the children of Linda and Patrick Finnessey. She was briefly romantically involved with both Anheuser-Busch beer heir and CEO August Busch IV and with sports attorney and businessman Italo Zanzi.
She and television personality Carson Kressley were co-presenters of the 2006 Miss Universe pageant (held in Los Angeles, California).