O'Dell began her broadcast career as a reporter and anchor at WPDE-TV in her home town of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She later worked as morning news anchor and crime reporter at WCBD-TV in nearby Charleston. While in Charleston, O'Dell's reports on the lenient police approach to DUI cases led to a State Law Enforcement Division investigation that resulted in state authorities re-issuing a more stringent directive regarding these cases. O'Dell was honored by the Associated Press with the Best Report of the Year Award (all media, South Carolina). In 1993, she joined NBC's WTVJ in Miami co-anchoring the 5:30 pm news with Jackie Nespral. She left the station in 1995 to move to Las Vegas with her first husband. Nancy worked as an entertainment reporter for the nationally syndicated tabloid show A Current Affair. She remained with A Current Affair until the show ended in 1996. In addition to her work as a lead anchor on Access Hollywood (1996), O'Dell also contributed to NBC News' Today, and also to Dateline NBC. She has covered such events as The Oscars, The Emmys, The Grammys and The Golden Globe Awards, as well as co-hosting a number of Pre-Show/Arrivals shows for The Emmys and the Golden Globes.
O'Dell co-hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe competitions in 2004 and 2005. She co-hosted the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade on WNBC from 2004-2006. She co-hosted the Miss USA 2006 pageant with Drew Lachey, the Miss Universe 2006 pageant with Carlos Ponce, and the Miss USA 2007 pageant with Tim Vincent.
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