First runner-up was Jennifer Glover, the previous Miss United States International 1999 and the future Miss California 2002 and Miss California USA 2001.On November 18, 2000, Finnessey won the Miss Jackson title in the Miss Missouri system and finished 2nd runner-up to Jennifer Hover in the June 3 – 9, 2001 Miss Missouri pageant held in Mexico, MO. Louis Metro local title in the Miss Missouri system and went on to win the 2002 Miss Missouri title, succeeding Hover.Her Miss Universe Organization "sister" 2004 titleholders were Jennifer Hawkins (Miss Universe, of Australia) and Shelley Hennig (Miss Teen USA, of Louisiana).
In the competition to be Miss America, she played the piano.
She won the contest despite having slammed her hand in a car door that weekend.
During the contest, she performed an arrangement of "Flight of the Bumblebee" on the piano for her talent.
As Miss USA, Finnessey went on to represent the United States at the international Miss Universe competition held in Quito, Ecuador, in May 2004, culminating on June 1, 2004.
She placed first runner-up in the internationally broadcast competition, behind winner Jennifer Hawkins of Australia.
Following graduation, she worked briefly as a full-time substitute teacher in Jackson, Missouri, before starting graduate school.