MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Miss Minnesota was not chosen to represent the U.S. in the forthcoming Miss Universe Pageant.

On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nitaya Panemalaythong, of Savage, Minn., competed in the Miss USA Pageant.

The title went to Miss Rhode Island, Olivia Culpo. The 20-year-old cellist beat out 50 other contestants.

Panemalaythong, who is the first Asian-American to win the Miss Minnesota title, didn’t make it to the final rounds.

When WCCO talked with the 26-year-old, she said she wasn’t motivated by the crown, but rather the desire to graduate from college.

She was attending classes at Normandale when someone suggested she enter the Miss Minnesota pageant. She gave it a shot, and now has scholarship money for her education.

Panemalaythong took a semester off from college because of appearances and she continues to help support her family. She plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota Carlson School and study finance.


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