New Miss USA from Houston area

April 11, 2008 9:54:24 PM PDT
A 26-year-old entrepreneur from Texas was named Miss USA on Friday, besting 50 other beauty queens for the coveted crown. Crystle Stewart, of Missouri City, Texas, runs what a party-planning and motivational speaking company, as well as modeling professionally. She says she wants to dedicate her life to international philanthropy.

She edged out first runner-up Leah Laviano of Mississippi and Tiffany Andrade of New Jersey.

Miss USA 2007 Rachel Smith relinquished the crown -- and the posh New York apartment that comes with it -- in a show aired live by NBC with hosts Donny and Marie Osmond from the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. The network co-owns the parent Miss Universe Organization with Donald Trump.

Smith, a former Miss Tennessee USA, said she was headed to Hollywood.

Contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have been in Las Vegas for nearly three weeks, rehearsing and hyping the 57th annual pageant. After stints in Baltimore and Los Angeles, organizers billed the new venue as a city beloved by the event's international audience.

The pageant tried to showed off its edge, featuring a grinding live rock performance by the band Finger Eleven, music from Rihanna, and contestants in barely there black bikinis and faux-fur coats.

- Headlines at a glance


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