Gary, Ind. Shauntay Hinton, a broadcast communications major at Howard University, was crowned Miss USA on Friday night, becoming the first winner from the District of Columbia in 38 years.
And she did it by upstaging a Kansas University student.
Hinton, 23, began crying and her knees buckled when she realized she had won after it was announced that Miss Kansas, Lindsay Douglas, was the first runner-up.
Last year's winner, former Miss Texas Kandace Krueger, quickly placed the winner's sash and crown on Hinton, who walked down the catwalk, then returned to the stage and was besieged by the other contestants.
The 5-foot-7 Hinton, who is black, is only the second Miss District of Columbia to win the Miss USA pageant in its 50-year history. She is majoring in broadcast communications at Howard University and minoring in business administration.
Hinton will compete in the Miss Universe Pageant in May in Puerto Rico.
During the question-and-answer section of the pageant, Hinton was asked what she considered the "most mind-boggling" thing about the opposite sex.
She responded: "Oh boy, Oh Lord. You know what I don't understand about men, is they never share their emotions with us.
Douglas is a 23-year-old waitress and a student pursuing a master's degree in education at KU.
Miss Indiana, Kelly Lloyd, was second-runner up. Lloyd, 25, is majoring in journalism at Ball State University. Third runner up was Miss Minnesota Lanore VanBuren, 26, who is studying business administration at the Minnesota School of Business.
Miss Connecticut, Alita Hawaah Dawson, was the fourth runner up. The 23-year-old is studying communications at Atlantic University.
Twelve semifinalists, instead of the usual 10, were selected Thursday from among the 51 contestant after two weeks of modeling for the pageant's preliminary-round judges in swimsuits and evening gowns and taking part in interviews.
Two more contestants than usual advanced because of a three-way tie for the final spot, pageant officials said. The semifinalists did not learn that they had made the cut until the two-hour show began.
The semifinalists chosen represented Alabama, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas.
From those 12, the judges later pared the field to five finalists: Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Indiana and Minnesota.