By Natalie Keller

In June, the 69th Annual Miss South Dakota Pageant took place in Hot Springs. Autumn Simunek, native of Hot Springs, won the crown and is now preparing for the upcoming Miss America Pageant, taking place in Atlantic City, New Jersey in September.

Twenty-two-year-old Simunek likes to think of herself as a lion: powerful, yet graceful. The new Miss South Dakota has overcome a lot to get to where she is today and has her perseverance and patience to thank. She took time out of her pageant schedule to chat about life outside of the Miss South Dakota title.

What’s your platform?

‘Five stars of serving those who served.’ It’s all about connecting our military members, their families, our veterans and homeless veterans back with our community members, making sure they understand how to fully help one another and help our military members better integrate back into society and everyday civilian life.

What are your hobbies outside of the pageant?

The fact is I’m always busy with pageants, but on the rare occasion that it comes around, Netflix. I’m a huge Grey’s Anatomy fan. I actually watch every single season, all the way through, twice a year, religiously. I’m that obsessed with it. The thing that I really enjoy doing in my spare time is reading. I wish I had more time to do it. As Miss South Dakota now, I do a lot of driving so I’ll be turning to audio books.

MISS SD _AUG_2015-4

What’s the nerdiest thing about you?

I am a huge Harry Potter fan and when I say huge, I mean it’s tattooed on my foot. It’s the last sentence of the last book, ‘All is well.’ There’s a Harry Potter blanket lined over my couch. I have all of the gigantic movie posters, which I purchased when they came out in theaters, had them framed and they’re all hung in my living room, along with three shelves of Harry Potter things, like my wands that I got from Harry Potter World; I’ve been there three times. The first time I walked into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I stopped dead in my tracks in front of the Hogwarts Express and cried, just tears of joy. I was so happy in that moment. My friends were like, ‘Come on, let’s go!’ And the train conductor said, ‘It’s okay. This happens all the time.’ I love Harry Potter and it’s taught me some of the most valuable life lessons I could have taken away.

MISS SD _AUG_2015-18

To read the full story, click here or pick up the August issue of 605 Magazine. 

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