The 24 year old former Miss Nevada won the competition on Sunday (June 9th)
Meet Nia Sanchez, the Tae Kwon Do black belt and former real life Disney princess who’s just beaten 50 other hopefuls to be crowned Nevada's first Miss USA winner. At the 63rd annual Miss USA pageant on Sunday (June 9th), 24 year old Nia Sanchez was presented with the title by last year's winner Erin Brady, at the event in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While Sanchez may look like a perfectly, polished pageant queen, behind her smile, she’s actually one tough cookie who's got a fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do!
Nia Sanchez is the new Miss USA
Sanchez referenced her 12 years of martial arts training twice during the contest in her interview segments. When pageant judge Rumer Willis asked the former Miss Nevada about the high rate of sexual assault on collage campuses, Sanchez answered that she felt awareness had to be raised among women so they could learn to protect themselves. “As a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself,” said Sanchez. “And I think that's something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”
Aside from being pretty handy in a fight, Sanchez is also a former real life Disney princess. The model beat thousands of applicants to spend seven months working in Hong Kong’s Disneyland resort as a face character, taking part in parades and meet and greets with visitors. The job fit perfectly with Sanchez’s sense of adventure, which has so far lead her to visit thirteen countries.
Her wanderlust began once she graduated high school and took a job as a nanny in Europe. She then traveled to Austria, Switzerland, Thailand, China and Middle East and also visits Mexico for three months every year on mission trips.
Nia Sanchez [centre left] faced stiff competition for the crown
But despite representing Nevada and becoming their first Miss USA winner, Sanchez wasn’t actually born in the Silver State. Sacramento, California was the future pageant queen’s first home and she lived their until her parents divorced when she was six years old. Sanchez and her mother then moved to Las Vegas and spent two month’s living in a women’s shelter, while they tried to get back on their feet. Now Nia volunteers at a Nevada shelter, where she puts her martial arts training to good use, teaching women and children how to defend themselves.
While Sanchez impressed in both the evening gown and swimsuit sections of the contest, it was her personality that really won over the judges. Her intelligence, social conscience and vibrant personality made her the perfect all rounder to carry the Miss USA crown. Plus, even in an evening gown, she could still kick some serious ass.
After winning the Miss USA title, Sanchez said she plans to take her passion and knowledge for martial arts to the masses, teaching everyone the beauty of self defence. However first Nia’s got anotherhigh profile competition to prepare for, the Miss Universe pageant, where she’ll be representing the USA later this year.
Nia Sanchez has a black belt!