"I'm so excited. It's a dream come true."
On Sunday night at the Baton Rouge River Center in Louisiana, Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez was crowned Miss USA 2014.
The 24-year old competed with 50 other state title holders who were judged in three categories: swimsuit, evening gown, and interview.
During her interview, wearing an intricate floor-length red gown, Sanchez addressed the high rate of sexual assaults on college campuses.
Saying that she felt that some colleges sweep the problem under the rug, Sanchez added that "more awareness [of the issue] is very important so that women can learn to protect themselves."
As a fourth-degree black belt and someone who has learned taekwondo for twelve years, competing nationally, Sanchez said, "I learned at a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself and I think that's something we should really implement for a lot of women."
Before the age of ten, the dark-haired beauty lived part of her life with her mother in a women's shelter, which motivated her to learn self-defense. Now she volunteers in a women's shelter.
"I can really relate to the women on a personal level," she said. "because I've been there and I've been through those experiences."
Sanchez's boyfriend, actor Daniel Booko, posted his excitement for his partner on Twitter after the crowning.
— Daniel Booko (@realdanielbooko) June 9, 2014
Audra Mari from North Dakota won first runner-up in the pageant. Tiana Griggs from Georgia won second runner-up. Other finalists included contestants from Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida.
Celebrity judge Lance Bass from the pop singing group NSYNC said of the contestants, "It's all about the eyes. I just want to see a girl that is just really having a good time up there.
Sanchez was crowned by Erin Brady, Miss USA 2013. She will go on to compete at the international Miss Universe competition.
Image via YouTube