(VIA Huffington Post) 51 women from around the United States competed in 63rd annual Miss USA 2014 pageant Sunday night but only one came out on top. Nia Sanchez, formerly known as Miss Nevada, received the title and everything that came with it- including the beautiful tiara and sash. She competed against Miss Georgia, Miss Florida, Miss North Dakota, Miss Iowa and crowd-favorite Miss Louisiana, since the pageant took place at Baton Rouge Civic Center in Louisiana. Miss Iowa Carlyn Bradarich was chosen as the winner of the #SaveTheQueen option where people from home got to choose to save one person from the Top 10 by using the hashtag with the contestant’s state.
Sanchez waltzed herself into the prime spotlight, wearing a red floor-length fishtail dress for her evening gown attire. Then guest judge Rumer Willis gave her a question about sexual assault on college campuses and why is it being swept under the rug and what should be done about it. Sanchez responded by saying “I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves.” She continued on saying “Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”
Sexual assault was also a topic for Miss Pennsylvania Valerie Gatto. In her video segment, it was revealed that she was a product of rape when her mother was sexually assaulted and almost murdered. Her outlook on the situation was that she was living proof “that your circumstances do not define your life.” Gatto only made it to the Top 20. First runner-up Miss North Dakota Audra Mari was a victim of bullying throughout her childhood but overcame that by playing ice hockey. Her question was about whether or not kids should still pursue a higher education after high school, which she shared her opinion on about how important it was to go to college.
Miss USA Nia Sanchez was chosen by noted celebrity judges- ranging from 2005’s Miss Teen USA Allie LaForce, Ian Ziering from Beverly Hills 90210, ex NBA player Karl Malone, Miss Universe 1986 Barbara Palacios, Rumer Willis and Lance Bass. There was also performances from Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly with their hit song “Cruise”, Latin band Camila, and Marc Broussard featuring the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Sanchez is the first Miss Nevada to win Miss USA and now the fourth Hispanic to win after Laura Harring in 1985, Lynnette Cole in 2000, and Susie Castillo in 2003. She will now go on to compete in Miss Universe 2014 representing the United States later this year.