Alyssa Campanella bested 51 other contestants on Sunday night to win the Miss USA crown in Las Vegas. The contestants decreased to 16 after the show’s opening number, in which the beauty queens introduced themselves one-by-one.
The top 16 were picked by preliminary judges through competitions and interviews during the week before the telecast. Celebrity judges picked the top eight after the swimsuit competition and the top four after the evening gown portion.
Campanella won after strutting across the stage in a blue bikini with white polka dots and a dark turquoise evening gown with beading on its top. The competition consisted of three areas to compete: swimsuit, evening gown, and interview question.
To the question concerning the legalizing marijuana (it has been legal for medical use in California for 15 years) Campanella answered:”Well, I understand why that question would be asked, especially with today’s economy, but I also understand that medical marijuana is very important to help those who need it medically.”
And then she added: “I’m not sure if it should be legalized, if it would really affect, with the drug war. I mean, it’s abused today, unfortunately, so that’s the only reason why I would kind of be a little bit against it, but medically it’s OK.”
The 60th Annual Miss USA Pageant took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. It was hosted by Andy Cohen, host of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens: Live” and Giuliana Rancic, co-anchor of “E! News.” They were joined by Kellie Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy Osbourne, and Susie Castillo, Miss USA in 2003. The audience was packed with winners from previous years. Each winner had a sash with the year of their victory.
She also professed a love for history after E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic asked her about it during the pageant. “I’m obsessed with the Stuart and Tudor era,” Campanella said. “Whenever I go to ‘Barnes & Noble’ I’m always in the history section and that is where you will find me. I watch ‘Game of Thrones,’ I watched ‘Camelot’ – I know those are fantasy but I also watch the Tudors, so I’m a huge history geek,” she said.
Alyssa also added she grew up watching “Star Wars.” Campanella said during a news conference after the pageant that the win validated her decision to quickly move to Los Angeles from New Jersey after losing an apartment more than a year ago.
Fans were able to rate contestants in real time as the competition unfolded on television. Fan ratings didn’t count toward contestants scores, but fans were able to watch preliminary contests online and help vote their favorites into the semifinals. From there the judges took over.
The panel included Weiss-Fischmann, famous actress Mariel Hemingway, rapper and producer Lil Jon, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpiroto and Penn Jillette of the comedy-magic duo Penn & Teller. Among finalists in the competition there were Miss Tennessee, Ashley Elizabeth Durham; Miss Alabama, Madeline Mitchell; and Miss Texas, Ana Christina Rodriguez.
Alyssa Campanella has numerous beauty pageant titles, including 2007 Miss New Jersey Teen USA, first runner-up for 2007 Miss Teen USA, first runner-up for 2008 Miss New Jersey USA, Miss California USA in 2011, and now the Miss USA in 2011.
A natural blonde Campanella said she dyed her hair six years ago for a part in a play. And she really enjoys her presant image. She said: “It’s really brought out the true Alyssa Campanella, I feel, and that’s why I really enjoy being a redhead.”
Campanella replaces Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih. The 25-year-old from Michigan teared up as she walked across the stage for a final goodbye. Miss Tennessee Ashley Durham was the first runner-up, while contestants from Alabama and Texas placed third and fourth. Miss Kentucky Kia Ben-et Hampton won Miss Congeniality USA, while Miss Arizona Brittany Dawn Brannon won Miss Photogenic USA.
A 21-year-old Miss USA will represent the United States at the Miss Universe pageant, that is scheduled for Sept. 12 from Sao Paolo, Brazil. Last year’s winner was Mexico’s Jimena Navarrete. Alyssa hopes to keep modeling after her run as Miss USA is finished, depending on how she does representing the country at Miss Universe. [via Yahoo! News, The Huff Post and CNN]