Sparkling in her evening gown, Erin Brady, 25, took the 62nd Miss USA title on Sunday night.
Brady beat out 50 other beauty queens in swimsuit, evening gown and interview competitions to win. In the pageant's final moments, Miss USA 2012, Nana Meriwether, relinquished her crown to the Connecticut native, who will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow on Nov. 9.
“Oh my god,” Brady repeated in disbelief during the crowning.
Before she was announced as the winner, Brady showed off a few dance moves and strutted down the catwalk in an orange bikini to a performance from the Jonas Brothers, who played during the swimsuit competition.
Final questions were based on current events, and the Central Connecticut State graduate was asked if she believed criminal suspects should be subjected to DNA tests following arrest, in light of the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold them.
“I would agree that if somebody is being prosecuted and has committed a crime that is that severe, that they should submit a DNA test,” she told the judges. “If we can come one step closer to finding who’s done it, we should do so.”
She also gave her take on the challenges social media has presented to young people.
“I think that unfortunately everybody today has resorted to tweeting or sending text messages,” she said. “Verbal communication is something everybody is lacking. I’m a people person, and I know I’d rather shake your hand than send a text.”
Brady, who revealed she has an interest in tropical fish, is a financial accountant in Hartford, Conn., and she plans to get her MBA in the near future, according to the Miss USA website. She would also like to advocate for the children of substance abusers, as she grew up in a home with alcohol abuse and found few sources of outside support available to her.
As Miss USA, Brady will get posh digs in New York City, and an opportunity to travel the world while promoting the organization and acting as a spokeswoman for breast and ovarian cancer awareness.
First runner-up was Miss Alabama, Mary Margaret McCord, while Stacie Juris, Miss Illinois, took second runner-up.
The 51 beauty queens, representing each U.S. state and the District of Columbia, arrived at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas on June 1 for a busy week of pre-interviews, competitions and media events, instead of the standard Las Vegas fare of slot machines, nightclubs and shows.
Some contestants overcame numerous health-related hurdles to participate, like Miss Oregon, Gabrielle Neilan, who battled thyroid cancer in the months leading up to the pageant. She left with $1,000 for earning the Miss Congeniality prize.
Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and Giuliana Rancic, co-anchor of “E! News” hosted this year's competition. Judges included eccentric fashion designer Betsey Johnson, singer Christina Milian, Bob Harper of “The Biggest Loser,” writer-television personality Mo Rocca and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald.
While one-piece suits instead of bikinis will be worn by Miss World competitors this year, Miss USA’s itty-bitty swimwear has not changed a bit. When asked about the controversy in an interview on TODAY, Rancic responded, “They really, really work hard at being healthy and being fit and they’re proud to be in a bikini, so why not.”
Unlike the Miss America pageant, Miss USA does not require contestants to show off a talent for the judges or pick a charity to promote.
Last year’s winner, Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island, became the first Miss USA to go on to win the Miss Universe crown in 16 years.