Rimah Fakih is First Arab-American to Become Miss USA
A 24-year-old Arab American has won the Miss USA title, despite nearly stumbling in her evening gown.
Rima Fakih of Dearborn, Michigan, won the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini, wearing a strapless white gown and saying health insurance should cover birth control pills.
While it is though Miss Fakih is the first Middle Eastern woman to take the title, pagent officials said historical records were not detailed enough to show whether Miss Fakih was the first Arab American, Muslim or immigrant to win the Miss USA title. The pageant started in 1952 as a local bathing suit competition in Long Beach, California.
When asked how she felt about winning the crown, she said, "Ask me after I've had a pizza."
Miss Fakih, a Lebanese immigrant, told pageant organisers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003.
Miss Fakih said sold her car after graduating from university in Michigan to help pay for her run in the Miss Michigan USA pageant.
She said she believed she had the title on Sunday after glancing at pageant owner Donald Trump as she awaited the results with the first runner-up, Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard.
"That's the same look that he gives them when he says, 'You're hired,"' on Trump's reality show "The Apprentice," she said.
"She's a great girl," said Trump, who owns the pageant with NBC in a joint venture.
In a moment that was replayed during the broadcast, Miss Fakih nearly fell while finishing her walk in her gown because of the length of its train. But she made it without a spill and went on to win.
"I did it here, I better not do it at Miss Universe," she said. "Modelling does help, after all."
Fakih replaces Miss USA 2009 Kristen Dalton and won a spot representing the United States this summer in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant. She also gets a one-year lease in a New York apartment with living expenses, an undisclosed salary, and various health, professional and beauty services.
During the interview portion, Miss Fakih was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance, and she said she believed it should because it's costly.
"I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it's a controlled substance," she said.
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