Rima Fakih, 24, stumbled her way to the crown as Miss USA, but the Lebanese America seems to have all the right stuff to lend some credibility to the pageant, which has suffered through some bad press over the past few years.
Fakih provided her own drama when she nearly fell in her evening gown after getting tangled up in its lengthy train. She recovered and gamely carried on.
During the interview portion of the exercise, where previous contestants have tripped up, she she was asked: Should birth control be paid for by health insurance? Yes, she said she believed it should because it is expensive.
Her multi-cultural background also seemed tailored to the times.
Fakih was born in war-torn Lebanon, and moved to the United States as a baby. She was raised in New York City, where she attended a Catholic school.
She told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003, where she competed for and won the Miss Michigan USA title.
Fakih also graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelors degree in economics and minor in business administration. Law school is next up, after completing her one-year reign.
Miss Oklahoma, Morgan Elizabeth Woolard, was first runner-up.
She was asked about Arizona’s new immigration law, and said she supported the law because she supports “state’s rights.”
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The measure is highly controversial because it would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and critics say it will lead to racial profiling. Arizona is facing a major backlash over the law.
Fakih said at a post-pageant news conference she believed she had won after glancing at pageant owner Trump as she awaited the results with Woolard.
“That’s the same look that he gives them when he says, ‘You’re hired,'” on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” she said.
“She’s a great girl,” said Trump, who owns the pageant with NBC.
The show aired last night (May 16) from Las Vegas.
Kristen Dalton won in 2009. Fakih will also compete in the 2010 Miss Universe beauty pageant.
NBA Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner, Paula Deen of the Food Network, Oscar Nunez from NBC’s The Office, real estate mogul Phil Ruffin, Glamour magazine fashion editor Suze Yalof-Schwartz, model Melania Trump, and Olympic champion Johnny Weir were the judges.