Jeannine Johnson, 15, today is the sole local winner in a contest highlighting new ways people use their computers.

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Jeannine Johnson, a 15-year-old Puyallup drag racer, today won a national Microsoft contest highlighting interesting new ways people are using their computers.

Johnson uses her PC to fine-tune the junior dragster she has raced since she was nine. She also uses Microsoft products to maintain a Web page promoting her racing team and to communicate with people she meets while traveling to races.

Microsoft will feature Johnson in national magazine ads as part of its “Start Something” advertising campaign that’s promoting the Windows XP operating system. She’ll also win a trip to New York, be interviewed on ESPN2 and receive $5,000 worth of new technology, including Tablet and Media Center PCs.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates presented the award to Johnson at Microsoft’s campus this morning. Gates then chatted with her about the “junior dragster” car she brought to the Redmond campus and the technology she’s using.

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“He’s an amazing person because of what he’s done for the world,” Johnson said after meeting with Gates. .

Four other finalists were flown to Redmond for the event and to meet with Gates: Andre Isom, 23, a music producer and disc jockey from Benton Harbor, Mich.; Michelle Tjelmeland, 32, a Web developer whose deafness and deaf daughter inspired her to help other families in similar circumstances; Diane Reeder, 40, of Kingston, N.Y., who founded a nonprofit organization that helps people with their nutrition; and E.J. Dyksen, 19, a Grand Rapids, Mich., college student who produces a comedy show for his college TV station.