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Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island Won The Miss USA Pageant 2012

6:58 AM, Jun 5, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) The 61st Annual Miss USA Pageant had everything you could want from a beauty contest, from babes in bikinis to a panel of judges that included Rob Kardashian, Arsenio Hall and Ali Fedotwowsky. Bring on the beauties!

Donald Trump presided over the festivities, which aired live on Sunday on NBC from Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. He kicked things off by introducing hosts Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic.

Here's how it all played out:

Opener: The 51 contestants put on a "fashion show." In the first group, the women were dressed for a day at the races, sporting Derby-day big hats. (Weird!) The next batch wore "high-end glamour" outfits in gold and silver. The next was "rock-star style," with lots of black and studs. That group was followed by the "Champagne collection," which meant light-colored, sparkly dresses. And finally, we saw the "debutante collection," meaning flowing gowns and long gloves. Through it all, people pretended to be lining the runway, cheering them on (unnecessary!). The contestants walked so quickly we only really got a quick glimpse.Andy and Guiliana told us to expect three parts to the competition -- swimsuits, evening gowns and the final question. "It's my favorite part -- the final question!" said Giuliana. Questions were going to be taken from Twitter. "Make it good and saucy," said Andy.

Exiting Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella had a tip for the ladies: "Not many women can say they've made it to the Miss USA stage. I think there's that saying that you're more likely to have a son play in the Super Bowl than a daughter compete on the stage at Miss USA!"

"I like that factoid," said Andy.

Top 16: And just like that it was time to narrow down to the Top 16:Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina (celebrating her 27th birthday), Rhode Island, Nevada, Arkansas, Maine.The judges were introduced: Marilu Henner, Arsenio Hall, Ali Fedotowsky, Rob Kardashian, Dayana Mendoza, Joe Jonas, Cat Cora, George Kotsiopoulos.Kelly Osbourne, sporting purple hair, and Jeannie Mai, from Style Network's How Do I Look? were on hand for fashion commentary. In her first appearance on-camera, Kelly flubbed her line as she introduced Gabe Saporta from "Cabra Starship." She meant Cobra Starship. He made a plea to viewers: "Please do not be mad at me if I forget the lyrics to my own songs. Please. I beg of you. It's going to be very distracting with all those beautiful women in bikinis."

Swimsuit competition: As Cobra Starship performed, the 16 strutted their stuff in bikinis, showing off long legs, jutting hip bones, jiggling backsides and long, cascading hair. Some random facts: Miss Oklahoma is the only one who has bangs. Miss South Carolina worked for a personal assistant/nanny for Hugh Jackman for eight months. 

Miss Rhode Island was "short and chubby" growing up. Miss Arkansas dreams of being a celebrity stylist.Awarded: Miss Congeniality - Iowa, Rebecca HodgeMiss Photogenic - Oregon, Alaina BergsmanTop 10: Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas, Rhode Island, Nevada, Maryland and Georgia.There was a brief tribute to Dick Clark, who hosted the pageant for several years. Then we learned some more about each of the lovely ladies.Alabama - Katherine Webb: "I'm very extroverted. ... I don't think I ever really have a dull moment. I'm just a very happy person."Oklahoma - Lauren Taylor Lundeen: "I just want to say be comfortable with your body."Ohio - Audrey Bolte: "I have worked for everything in my life ... and I"m pretty proud of that."

Georgia - Jazz Wilkins: "I am a videogame junky. ... I'm very laid back. I just kind of like to go with the flow of things."Texas - Brittany Booker: Grandma, "Nana," who battled breast cancer, is "an inspiration."Colorado - Marybel Gonzalez: "I love horseback riding."New Jersey - Michelle Leonardo: "Everyone should experience dance."Maryland - Nana Meriwether: "I started playing volleyball in the eighth grade. ... I'm a two-time NCAA All-American and played professionally in Puerto Rico."

Rhode Island - Olivia Culpo loves Audrey Hepburn. "She was beautiful on the outside but also beautiful on the inside."Nevada - Jade Kelsall: She had heart surgery two weeks before her state pageant and wants to reach out to the community to teach about reaching goals.Evening gown competition theme: Garden of the Gods. The 41 non-finalists strolled in evening gowns, striking poses before the finalists took the stage. Unlike the other parts of the show, during this one, the women walked achingly slowly as Jeannie Mai weighed in.Miss Alabama wore a nude-colored gown. Miss Oklahoma sparkled like "a party bowl of confetti," said Mai. Miss Ohio, looking like "a trophy," stood out in canary yellow gown with a billowing train. Miss George wore a plunging white gown with a cutout back that dipped way down. "Makes her torso look miles long!" said Mai. Miss Texas wore a blue gown. Miss Colorado opted for a red one. Miss New Jersey and Miss Maryland wore white. Miss Rhode Island "looks like a princess," in her purple gown, said Mai. Miss Nevada also wore white, but stood out with a flashy necklace.

Top five finalists: Georgia, Nevada, Rhode Island, Maryland, Ohio.Time for a "candid" moment. Andy Cohen asked Georgia, Jazz Wilkins, about swimming with sharks. Giuliana Rancic asked Nevada, Jade Kelsall, about attending Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday party. Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo, chatted about the importance of teaching music in schools. Maryland, Nana Meriwether, talked about admiring Angelina Jolie for how she's raising her kids to be "more globally aware." Ohio, Audrey Bolte, chatted about being an only child.

But that was just a warm-up for the Final Question.Jazz Wilkins, Georgia, went first. The question came from Cat Cora: New York Mayor Bloomberg plans to ban big sugary drinks. Does that go too far? "I love to have my Big Gulp when I go to 7-11," she said, but added she was "glad they are putting some restrictions on it."Jade Kelsall, Nevada, got a question from Arsenio Hall. He wondered how six out of 11 Miss USA contestants recently couldn't name our country's vice president. How could that be? "I went through that process. ... We were very tired, but we do know who the vice president is. But it was a really long day..." So who is it? "Biden!"Olivia Culpo, Rhode Island, fielded a question from a Twitter. Rob Kardashian read it: Would it be fair if a transgender woman won the Miss USA title? "I do think it would be fair ..." she said, recognizing that some people "might be apprehensive" because of tradition. But, she added she would be in favor of it because "there are so many people who have a need to change for a happier life. I do accept that because I believe it's a free country." The crowd erupted with cheers.

Nana Meriwether, Maryland, answered a question from Joe Jonas, who asked her about Toddlers & Tiaras. She answered that she is applying to medical school and "has so much to give." She added, "Stereotypical shows like that do paint a bad picture of pageantry, but we are beautiful and strong women."Audrey Bolte, Ohio, took a question from Marilu Henner, who asked if women in film and television are portrayed in a positive way. "It depends on the movie. There are some ways that depict them in a positive role and some movies that put them in a little bit more of a negative role but by the end of the movie that show that woman power that we all have. Such as Pretty Woman. ... She came out on top."

Cut to Kelly Osbourne who asked Akon if he will be distracted by the beauty when he performs. "No, I never forget the words."

Call Me Trump: The contestants did their own version of Call Me Maybe, the hit Carly Rae Jepsen song and included Donald Trump taking part.Akon performed in the final moments to give judges one last look at the five finalists.And drum roll, please: Fourth runner-up: GeorgiaThird runner-up: NevadaSecond runner-up: OhioRunner-up: MarylandSaid Andy Cohen: "Who will it be?"Miss USA 2012: Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo.According to her bio, Culpo, 20, is a sophomore at Boston University and has made the dean's list every semester. Her parents both began their professional lives as musicians; Olivia, one of five children, has been playing the cello since second grade. She said during the show she spent her summers at band camp, and that she was short and chubby as a kid."I was just so surprised, so shocked, so honored to be there," she said of her win, reports AP. Culpo, who spoke on the show of being inspired by Audrey Hepburn, said after winning her crown Sunday night that she plans to go to Tiffany & Co. in New York and re-create Hepburn's iconic opening scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's.

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