(RENO, Nev.) — Critics are questioning Miss USA Nia Sanchez’s eligibility in the beauty pageant, claiming that she did not really live in Nevada so she shouldn’t have been allowed into that state’s pageant.
After three consecutive failed attempts to win the Miss California USA crown, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sanchez, 24, won the Miss Nevada competition in January. There was some speculation that Sanchez met minimum residency requirements to compete in the Nevada pageant, but that she did not live in the Silver State.
Despite concern, the Miss Universe Organization told ABC News there is “no reason to question her residency.”
Sanchez said in a statement, “Nothing could have been more thrilling for me than to have won the Miss USA title. I have lived in Nevada since the fall of 2012 and it was an honor for me to represent the state at Miss USA.”
This is Sanchez’s second brush with controversy as Miss USA, after she suggested self-defense for women to combat sexual assault on college campuses during the pageant.
She was posed with this question, “Nineteen percent of U.S. undergraduate women are victims of sexual assault in college. Why has such a horrific epidemic been swept under the rug for so long, and what can colleges do to combat this?”
“I believe some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation, and that may be a reason it could get swept under the rug,” Sanchez answered. “I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how 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, and that’s something that we should start to implement for a lot of women.”
Online critics accused her of blaming the victims.
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