Sanchez, who wore an intricate red gown during the latter
part of the three-hour nationally broadcast contest, addressed
the issue of sexual assault on college campuses during a
question-and-answer session faced by all six finalists.
Sanchez said she felt some colleges, fearing a bad reputation,
might sweep the problem under the rug, and that "More awareness
(of the issue) is very important so that women can learn to
She added that as a 4th degree black belt, she learned "you need
to be confident and be able to defend yourself ... That's
something we need to start to implement for a lot of women."
The pageant, co-hosted by Giuliana Rancic of "E! News" and
MSNBC's morning news show "Way Too Early" host Thomas Roberts,
was broadcast live on NBC from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The first runner-up was Audra Mari, 20, from North Dakota. Other
finalists included contestants from Georgia, Louisiana and
Florida. Iowa's representative became a sixth finalist based on
fan voting on Twitter, but placed as the fifth runner-up.
The competition featured contestants from all 50 states and the
District of Columbia who were judged in three traditional beauty
pageant categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview.
Erin Brady, Miss USA 2013, crowned her successor, who will go on
to compete at the international Miss Universe competition.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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