Erin Brady of South Glastonbury, Conn., won the beauty pageant at the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino after strutting in a white sparkly gown and answering a question about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding widespread DNA tests. Asked if she agreed with the decision, Brady said she did.
Brady gets the crown and a New York apartment for one year. She is expected to spend her title reign on a nationwide speaking tour and raising breast and ovarian cancer awareness, the organization's official cause.
Unlike the rival Miss America pageant, Miss USA doesn't ask its queens to perform a talent or choose a charity mission.
The winner will represent the United States at the Miss Universe pageant in the winter.
Last year's Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, won that international crown, becoming the first Miss USA to ascend to Miss Universe in 16 years. Meriwether, who had been first runner-up, took over for her for the remainder of the year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.