Miss USA 2012: Miss Rhode Island Takes the Crown

Olivia Culpo Miss USA - H 2012
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Olivia Culpo Miss USA - H 2012

20-year-old Olivia Culpo, a sophomore at Boston University, takes the crown after expressing her support for transgender contestants at the annual pageant.

On Sunday, a new Miss USA was crowned: Rhode Island's Olivia Culpo, a Boston University sophomore, cellist and self-described "nerd."

Culpo, 20, won the competition after expressing her support for transgender beauty queens during the interview section of the pageant, which was held at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Celebrity judge Rob Kardashian asked Culpo her question, which came from a Twitter submission. "Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?" he said.

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"I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it's a free country," Culpo said.

As the new reigning Miss USA, Culpo will take a year off from her studies at Boston University to fulfill her duties and compete in the 61st Miss Universe contest in December.

Miss Maryland Nana Meriwether took first runner up, while second runner-up went to Miss Ohio Audrey Bolte. Third runner-up went to Miss Nevada Jade Kelsall and fourth runner-up was Miss Georgia Jasmyn Wilkins.

Miss Iowa Rebecca Hodge won the honor of Miss Congeniality, and Miss Oregon Alaina Bergsma was deemed the most photogenic.

Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic hosted the annual event. The judges included Joe Jonas, chef Cat Cora and Arsenio Hall.