Washington, Aug.30 : John McCain's choice for vice-president -- Alaska Governor Sarah Palin - seems have an interesting, if not daring background.
A mom of five, bespectacled Palin, who was elected governor in 2006, smoked pot or specifically marijuana in her youth, has been a beauty pageant contestant who didn't win the Miss Wasilla, Alaska, title in 1984, loves eating moose burgers and watching hockey.
She admits she tried pot, but didn't like it - when marijuana was still legal in Alaska.
According to the New York Daily News, she is married to an Eskimo and is a gun-toting, pro-life Christian conservative. She drives a snowmobile, flies a plane, fishes for salmon and wears the mantle of maverick like a parka.
This 44-year-old brunette told a rapturous Republican crowd yesterday after McCain introduced her to the country that she did not get into government to do things easy.
Her father, Chuck Heath, greeted the news by saying: "Holy cow, I'm just kind of speechless on the whole thing."
Palin has a reputation as a reformer, her government resume is on the thin side and she has no foreign policy experience. She's a first term governor who just 20 months ago was the mayor of her hometown, Wasilla, which has a population of 6,715.
Born Feb. 11, 1964, in Idaho, Sarah Louise Heath Palin was still in diapers when her parents - both teachers - moved the family to Wasilla, about 40 miles north of Anchorage.
The daughter of a devoted outdoorsman who took her moose hunting before school, Palin played point guard for Wasilla's championship high school basketball team.
Her aggressive play earned Palin the nickname "Sarah Barracuda." Before every game, Palin would lead the team in prayer.
While still in high school, Palin met and fell in love with her future husband, Todd Palin, a Yup'ik Eskimo who works in the oil-rich North Slope of Alaska.
Their oldest son, Track, 18, enlisted in the Army on Sept. 11, 2007, and will be deployed to Iraq next month. They also have three daughters, Bristol, 17, Willow, 14, and Piper, 7.
Last April, Palin gave birth to their second son, Trig, who has Downs Syndrome - a fact that came as no surprise to her because she had prenatal genetic testing done.
Palin said she never considered ending her pregnancy. "I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," she said.
A looker who resembles Megan Mullaly of "Will and Grace" and once posed in Vogue, Palin placed second in the 1984 Miss Alaska competition (she played the flute). She was also voted "Miss Congeniality."
That won Palin a scholarship to the University of Idaho - and ticket out of Wasilla.
After graduating with a journalism degree in 1987, Palin returned to Alaska and covered sports for an Anchorage TV station.
At the same time, she did commercial fishing with her husband - a backbreaking job that left her with broken fingers after one mishap.
Palin served two terms on the Wasilla city council before being elected mayor in 1996.
One of the first things Palin did was reduce her salary and fire key city officials she deemed disloyal, Alaska newspapers reported.
In 2002, Palin aimed higher and tried for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 2002. She didn't win, but she got appointed to the influential Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
In that post, Palin took on Alaska's powerful GOP old boys network and spearheaded a ethics probe that forced out Republican Party Chairman Randy Reudrich.
Palin managed to score an upset victory over Alaska's powerful then-Gov. Frank Murkowski in the GOP primary. She went on to beat her Democratic opponent in 2006 to become Alaska's first female governor.
Although Palin opposes same-sex marriage, she used her first veto as governor to block legislation that would have barred Alaska from granting benefits to the partners of gay state employees.
Palin also made good on a campaign promise to sell Murkowski's official state jet on eBay for 2.1 million dollars.
While Palin favors opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, she has also raised taxes on the state's energy producers.
Palin's successor at Wasilla City Hall, Mayor Dianne Keller, said the whole town - and state - is applauding McCain's choice.