The Miss United States pageant - a scholarship programme seeking beauty and grace from all its contestants. That is, until tomboy FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) enters the running. Forced to go undercover to investigate a threat from one of the country's most infamous criminals "The Citizen";, Gracie must change her image from rough and tough agent to exquisite beauty queen. In desperation, the head of the FBI operation Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt) hires Victor Melling (Michael Caine) to transform Gracie into a beautifully convincing "Miss New Jersey";. When the killer is suddenly captured, Gracie suspects that there is more to The Citizen's threat and insists on staying in the competition as an anonymous guardian to the contestants. The truth eventually unfolds with an unexpected twist.