Newly-crowned Miss USA (formerly Miss Nevada) Nia Sanchez has been in the hot seat over allegations that she didn’t live in Nevada, but mainly resided in California.
Shanna Moakler, Miss USA 1995 and current Executive Director of the Miss Nevada USA organization, says Nia did nothing wrong, and earned the title fair and square.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize that in pageantry there’s a term called state-hopping, and it’s when girls go to other states to compete,” Shanna told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover on Wednesday’s Access Hollywood Live. “They do it for prize packages, maybe they go to college in a different state or they have family in a different state, or maybe they’ve competed in one state for a couple of years and they don’t see themselves advancing, so they go to another state because they want what we call a sash factor.
“Maybe they want to be Miss California, or maybe they want to go to a state that’s not so hard to win because they want so badly to be on the Miss USA stage,” she added.
Shanna, who stars on VH1’s “Hollywood Exes,” also won Miss USA after winning a state competition in a state she wasn’t from.
“My titleholder complied with all of the rules of the Miss Universe organization. I’m very proud as a product of the system,” she said. “I was born and raised in Rhode Island, but competed as Miss New York and won Miss USA as Miss New York USA.”
The 39-year-old beauty said she takes it as a compliment that contestants routinely come to Nevada to compete for the state’s title.
“I have a lot of girls that state hop to Nevada from Florida and Texas and I take a lot of pride in it because I think it speaks volumes about me as a director,” she said. “I think I have a fantastic prize package, I have unbelievable celebrity judges, and also I’m really fun to work with!”
Shanna hopes Nia will soon get to enjoy her win, instead of fielding questions about her state of residence.
”[Nia] went out on a media tour and I think she just thought she was going to be enjoying the fact that people were gonna be asking her, ‘What was it like being crowned Miss USA?’ And instead, she was kind of interrogated and I think that was kind of unfair for her,” she said. “She should really be enjoying her win.”
-- Erin O’Sullivan