Kára McCullough, a chemist working for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was today crowned Miss USA during the annual Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.

Contestants complete in the bikini section of the preliminary competition for Miss USA. Photo / AP
Contestants complete in the bikini section of the preliminary competition for Miss USA. Photo / AP

Competing against 50 other women, the Italian native wowed the judges with her beauty, talent and intelligence.

As part of her prize, McCullough will move into a luxury NYC apartment, have access to a her own fully paid wardrobe and go on to represent the USA at the annual Miss Universe contest.

Kara displays her evening wear for the judges. Photo / AP
Kara displays her evening wear for the judges. Photo / AP

Last year, District of Columbia resident Deshauna Barber became the first-ever military member to win Miss USA, and today she handed over her crown to her successor.

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Kara McCullough was overcome with emotion after she was crowned the new Miss USA. Photo / AP
Kara McCullough was overcome with emotion after she was crowned the new Miss USA. Photo / AP

The runner-up was Miss New Jersey, Chhavi Verg, and second runner-up was Miss Minnesota, Meridith Gould.

Miss USA Kara McCulloug embraces first runner up Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg. Photo / AP
Miss USA Kara McCulloug embraces first runner up Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg. Photo / AP