Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, 24, crowned as 63rd Miss USA

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Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, 24, crowned as 63rd Miss USA
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez is crowned Miss USA during the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez is crowned Miss USA during the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez is crowned Miss USA during the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez competes in the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez addresses the media in the 2014 Miss USA Competition press conference at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez participates in the swimsuit competition during the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez celebrates with her competitors after being crowned Miss USA during the pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Georgia USA Tiana Griggs, from left, Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Alyson Guidry, Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez, Miss Florida USA Brittany Oldehoff, Miss North Dakota USA Audra Mari and Miss Iowa USA Carlyn Bradarich, stand during the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. Sanchez would go on to win the Miss USA title. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss North Dakota USA Audra Mari, left, and Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez await the final decision during the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. Sanchez would go on to win the Miss USA 2014 title. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Alyson Guidry reacts after advancing in the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss Florida USA Brittany Oldehoff competes in the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Miss New Jersey USA Emily Shah competes in the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LA - JUNE 08: Brian Kelley (L) and Tyler Hubbard (R) of Florida Georgia Line perform during the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez is crowned Miss USA during the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss USA 2013 Erin Brady waves to the crowd during the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss Florida USA Brittany Oldehoff participates in the evening gown competition during the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Alyson Guidry participates in the evening gown competition during the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss Maryland USA Taylor Burton poses during the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Contestants pose on the stage during the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss Georgia USA Tiana Griggs participates in the evening gown competition during the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Hosts Thomas Roberts, left, and Giuliana Rancic speak during the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Miss USA 2013 Erin Brady walks onstage to participate in the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Idaho USA Yvette Deleon Guerrero Bennett participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Arkansas USA Helen Wisner during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Delaware USA Kelsey Miller participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss California USA Cassandra Kunze participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss South Carolina USA Christina Isabelle Zapolski participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Oregon USA Emma Pelett participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Ohio USA Madison Gesiotto participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss New Mexico USA Kamryn Taylor Blackwood participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss New York USA Candace Kendall participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Massachusetts USA Caroline Lunny participates during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss California USA Cassandra Kunze participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss New Jersey USA Emily Shah participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Pennsylvania USA Valerie Gatto participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Minnesota USA Haley O'Brien participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Maine USA Samantha Dahlborg participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Indiana USA Mekayla Diehl participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Wyoming USA Lexi Hill participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Tennessee USA Kristy Landers Niedenfuer participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Kansas USA Audrey Banach participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Alyson Guidry participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Iowa USA Carlyn Bradarich participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss District of Columbia USA Ciera Nicole Butts participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Washington USA Allyson Maureen participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Vermont USA Gina Bernasconi participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Maryland USA Taylor Burton participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Missouri USA Erica Sturdefant participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss North Carolina USA Olivia Joan Olvera participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Ohio USA Madison Gesiotto participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Nevada USA Nia Sanchez participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss North Dakota USA Audra Mari participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Kansas USA Audrey Banach participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Florida USA Brittany Oldehoff participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss District of Columbia USA Ciera Nicole Butts participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Arizona USA Jordan Alyssa Wessel participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Illinois USA Alexis Atkins participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Delaware USA Kelsey Miller participates in the swimsuit competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Hawaii USA Moani Anna Marguerite Hara participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Miss Illinois USA Alexis Atkins participates in the evening gown competition during the 2014 Miss USA preliminary competition in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Newly-crowned Miss USA Nia Sanchez, a fourth-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of taekwondo, says that women need to be able to defend themselves as a way to battle the problem of campus rape and that bringing awareness to the issue is very important.

The 24-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada, beat out 50 other contestants from all the states and the District of Columbia on Sunday night for the title of 63rd Miss USA. First runner-up was Miss North Dakota Audra Mari. Sanchez will go on to represent the U.S. at the Miss Universe competition later this year.

Nia Sanchez Crowned Miss USA 2014

In a vibrant red floor-length fishtail gown, Miss Nevada answered judge Rumer Willis' question about the high rate of sexual assaults on college campuses. Willis, the 25-year-old daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, said 19 percent of U.S. undergraduate women are victims of sexual assault and asked Sanchez why she thinks the issue is being swept under the rug and what should be done about it.

Sanchez said women need to take it upon themselves to learn how to defend themselves. After being crowned, Sanchez told reporters she lived for a time in a women's shelter at a young age with her mother and at age 8 took up taekwondo to learn self-defense and build up her confidence.

As an adult, she has volunteered at women's shelters, teaching residents how to defend themselves and teaching kids about "stranger danger."

"I relate to them on a personal level because I've been there myself," she said, adding that she plans to take her passion and knowledge for martial arts to the masses as Miss USA.

Sanchez also said she was "so proud to bring the title of Miss USA back to Nevada."

"I'm so excited," she said. "It's a dream come true."

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. Besides Mari, the next four runners-up, judged on interviews, evening gowns and swimsuits were: Miss Georgia Tiana Griggs, Miss Louisiana Brittany Guidry, Miss Florida Brittany Oldehoff and Miss Iowa Carlyn Bradarich. All the titles included USA after the state.

Bradarich got a second chance when the viewing audience gave her the most votes on Twitter in the pageant's first-ever "Save the Queen" option.

The subject of sexual assault was also on the mind of Miss Pennsylvania Valerie Gatto. She made headlines this 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."

First runner-up Mari said she overcame being bullied in high school by competing in ice hockey. The Fargo, North Dakota, native wore a green floor-length evening gown and in her final interview talked about the importance of getting an education and going to college.

Contestants entered the stage on a glitzy float as Louisiana native singer-songwriter Marc Broussard sang the New Orleans hits "Iko Iko" and "Hey Pocky Way" to kick off the 2014 contest. The women introduced themselves while holding Mardi Gras masks in their hands as purple, green and gold confetti fell in the background.

The pageant also included musical acts by the country music duo Florida Georgia Line, rapper Nelly and Latin pop band Camila.

Celebrity judges walked a red carpet in evening gowns and tuxedos before the start of the show, posing for pictures and talking about the qualities they would be looking for in the beauty they crown the winner.

"It's very important that she has confidence," said Barbara Palacios, Miss Universe 1986 and a coach and judge for the new Telemundo reality show, "Miss Latina Universo." ''The right attitude and perseverance are also very important."

"It's all about the eyes," said Lance Bass of the pop singing boy group NSYNC. "I just want to see a girl that is just really having a good time up there."

Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Organization, which includes the Miss USA pageant, also walked the red carpet.

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