Black Belt Crowned Miss USA

Self-defense is important, says Nevada's Nia Sanchez
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2014 12:57 AM CDT
Black Belt Crowned Miss USA
Miss North Dakota USA Audra Mari, left, and Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez await the final decision during the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, La.    (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, a fourth-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of taekwondo, was crowned Miss USA 2014 last night. 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. First runner-up was Miss North Dakota Audra Mari. Erin Brady, of South Glastonbury, Connecticut, the 2013 winner, gave up her crown to Sanchez after a three-hour telecast from the Baton Rouge Civic Center in Louisiana.

Sanchez, who will go on to represent the US at the Miss Universe competition later this year, talked about the importance of women being able to defend themselves when asked a question about the high rate of sexual assaults on college campuses. The subject of sexual assault was also on the mind of Miss Pennsylvania Valerie Gatto, who made headlines last week when she said she was the product of rape. During a taped segment that aired when her name was called, Gatto said her mother was 19 when she was attacked leaving work in Pittsburgh and became pregnant. Gatto said she is living proof "that your circumstances do not define your life." (More Miss USA stories.)

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