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10 beauty queens left in Miss USA contest in Vegas

(AP) 10 beauty queens left in Miss USA contest in Vegas
By HANNAH DREIER
Associated Press
LAS VEGAS
A group of 10 beauties remained in the Miss USA competition Sunday night when five women were sent home after strutting their stuff in swimsuits.

Among the remaining contestants were Miss Louisiana, Miss Texas and Miss Illinois, who admitted during the show that she once attacked her sister for borrowing her clothes without asking.

Also continuing on in the competition were super-fit representatives from Connecticut, South Carolina, Ohio, Illinois, Utah, Alabama and North Carolina.

Miss Nevada, a Las Vegas restaurant manager, also made the cut.

In a twist, organizers announced they would allow fans to save one of the eliminated women by announcing their support on Twitter.

During the swimsuit competition, the ladies threw off sheer wraps to reveal skimpy blue, gold and orange bikinis. They strutted in stilettos to the Jonas Brothers' live performance of "Pom Poms." Miss Louisiana, Miss California and Miss Maryland wore their cover-up around their necks like a cape.

When it was announced that Miss South Carolina would be continuing on from the swimsuit competition, a woman in the audience let out a long piercing scream.

The remaining women strutted to Calvin Harris' electronica-infused "Sweet Nothing" in an array of spangled, flowing evening gowns. Trains, gauze and long wavy hair were the preferred looks.

Only five will move on to the interview portion of the show.

Reigning queen Nana Meriwether will relinquish her crown and the posh New York apartment that comes with it at the end of the night and usher in her successor.

The women got the night started with a light-hearted fashion show, gliding down a runway in short dress and ball gowns to Pitbull's "Don't Stop the Party" against a backdrop of gleaming LED screens. All but one wore her hair down in loose curls.

All but 15 were quickly sent home based on preliminary competitions.

Miss USA Contestants cannot have been married or have children, and they must be younger than 27.

Unlike the rival Miss America pageant, Donald Trump's Miss USA does not ask its queens to perform a talent or choose a charity mission.

The judge's panel includes over-the-top fashion designer Betsey Johnson, "Biggest Loser" star Bob Harper and "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me" personality Mo Rocca.

Rocca praised the pageant as a prime example of Americana backstage. He said he was looking to appoint a new Miss USA who reminded him of Abraham Lincoln "without the beard."

The pageant aired live on NBC, hosted by Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers pop act and Giuliana Rancic, co-anchor of "E! News." The Jonas Brothers and DJ Pauly D were expected to perform.

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.

Sunday's winner will become a spokeswoman for breast and ovarian cancer awareness and other causes and will traveling to promote the organization.

The Miss USA hopefuls have been staying at the Planet Hollywood casino for the past week, but the flashing slot machines and ubiquitous oversized novelty drinks have been little more than a background to a stuffed schedule of product tie-in media events, including hairdo contests and paddleboat competitions.

The animal rights organization People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals is using the pageant to stage a protest of fur and the tradition of awarding furs to winners of some state pageants.

PETA has made a provocative ad featuring four nude former Miss USA winners. The tagline is: "Feel Beautiful in Your Own Skin, and Let Animals Keep Theirs."

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Yvette Cruz contributed to this report.

Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier

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