The Latest: Miss District of Columbia wins 2017 Miss USA

LAS VEGAS (AP) " The Latest on the 2017 edition of the Miss USA pageant taking place in Las Vegas (all times local):

7 p.m.

The District of Columbia has won back-to-back Miss USA titles.

Kara McCullough, a chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Sunday during the event that took place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip. She will go on to compete on the Miss Universe contest.

The runner-up was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg. The second runner-up was Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould. Fifty-one women representing each state and the nation's capital participating in the decades-old competition.

McCullough was born in Naples, Italy, but she was raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.

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6:45 p.m.

The list has been narrowed down to three.

The finalists for the Miss USA contest in Las Vegas include the women representing Minnesota, the District of Columbia and New Jersey.

Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould is studying apparel retail merchandising at the University of Minnesota, while Miss District of Columbia Kra McCullough is a chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg is a student at Rutgers University studying marketing and Spanish.

They were all asked to explain what they consider feminism to be and whether they consider themselves feminists.

They modeled their final look of the night during a performance of Pitbull's "Options" featuring Stephen Marley.

The winner of Sunday's pageant will compete in the Miss Universe contest.

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6:20 p.m.

And then there were five.

The finalists for the Miss USA contest in Las Vegas include women representing Minnesota, Illinois, South Carolina, the District of Columbia and New Jersey.

They include college students, a chemist, a dancer and a nurse.

The women will continue on in Sunday's beauty pageant, with the winner set to compete in the Miss Universe contest. Next, they will face questions.

The finalists modeled their evening gowns as CMA Award-winner Brett Eldredge performed his new single "The Long Way."

This year, the women were allowed to choose their swimsuits from a selection of 20. The finalists walked on the stage sporting one- and two-piece swimsuits in an array of colors.

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5:40 p.m.

The top 10 finalists have been named at the Miss USA contest in Las Vegas.

Contestants from Minnesota, New Jersey, Missouri, Tennessee, California, District of Columbia, South Carolina, New York, Illinois and Alaska will continue on in the beauty pageant.

The event is airing live on the Fox network from the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip.

Miss District of Columbia Kra McCullough works for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She says she wants to inspire children to pursue careers on the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Next, the contestants will model wearing swimsuits.

The winner of Sunday's pageant will compete in the Miss Universe contest.

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5:10 p.m.

The 2017 edition of the Miss USA pageant has begun in Las Vegas with a performance from a Cirque du Soleil show based on Michael Jackson songs.

Fifty-one women are participating in the decades-old competition airing live on Fox from the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Julianne Hough, Ashley Graham and Terrence J are hosting the show.

Grammy Award-winner Pitbull and CMA Award-winner Brett Eldredge will perform during the two-hour event.

Ahead of the competition, members of the audience gathered in the venue's lobby and took pictures while holding signs in the shape of the state their favorite contestant is representing.

The beauty pageant this year includes five women who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age and now as citizens hope to represent the nation on a global stage.

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7:34 a.m.

Contestants are preparing to take the stage in the Miss USA pageant.

A new Miss USA will be crowned Sunday, when the contest that features women from each state and the nation's capital returns to Las Vegas.

Fifty-one women will participate in the decades-old competition airing live at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox from Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

The two-hour event will feature hosts Julianne Hough, Ashley Graham and Terrence J.

Grammy Award-winner Pitbull and CMA Award-winner Brett Eldredge will perform. The broadcast will also include a performance from a Cirque du Soleil show based on Michael Jackson songs.

Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA.

The winner of Sunday's pageant will compete in the Miss Universe contest.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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