The 24-year-old from Las Vegas beat out 50 other contestants from all the states and the District of Columbia for the title of 63rd Miss USA.
Nia Sanchez, who wore an intricate red gown during the latter part of the three-hour nationally broadcast contest, addressed the issue of sexual assault on college campuses during a question-and-answer session faced by all six finalists.
She said that as a 4th degree black belt, she learned “you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself … That’s something we need to start to implement for a lot of women.”
The first runner-up was Audra Mari, 20, from North Dakota. Other finalists included contestants from Georgia, Louisiana and Florida. Iowa’s representative became a sixth finalist based on fan voting on Twitter, but placed as the fifth runner-up.
Erin Brady, Miss USA 2013, crowned her successor, who will go on to compete at the international Miss Universe competition.
Marianna Szoke / Las Vegas, NV