Miss Universe Organization
Monday, June 16, 2014 | 4:32 p.m.
Billionaire Donald Trump, his Miss Nevada USA Pageant director Shanna Moakler and their new 2014 Miss USA Pageant winner, our hometown Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, have hit back at reports and rumors attempting to tarnish her victory.
The controversy over residency flared up just days after stunning 24-year-old Nia from Henderson won the title and the tiara in the NBC telecast from Baton Rouge, La., co-hosted by MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts and E! Entertainment’s Giuliana Rancic. We posted our Vegas DeLuxe report one week ago.
Reports elsewhere based on anonymous sources suggested that Nia wasn’t a Nevada resident and was thus ineligible to have won the state title and then the national crown. It was because she was signed to a modeling agency with offices in Los Angeles and Las Vegas that listed her as from California.
I’ve known since January, though, when I judged the 2014 Miss Nevada USA Pageant that Nia had lived here in Henderson for 18 months. All the judges were shown proof of her meeting the pageant’s six-month residency requirements. Her Nevada driving license was issued in January 2013, a full year before she even competed in our January pageant.
Paula Shugart , Donald Trump’s pageant president, added: “The Miss Universe Organization has no reason to question her residency, and we are thrilled to welcome her to the organization and look forward to working with her in the coming year.”
Shanna, who began with the organization in 1991 as a 15-year-old in the Miss Rhode Island Teen USA Pageant and is the 1995 Miss USA, said about Nia’s win: “Nia has been a wonderful titleholder who worked so hard! It has been an honor watching her over the years blossoming into a stunning young woman. She is kind, loving, fun and as beautiful on the inside.”
Nia had the last word, saying emphatically, “Las Vegas is my home. Before I moved to Las Vegas, I had been living and working in Hong Kong. It was almost a year and a half being in Las Vegas before I entered the Nevada pageant.
“I thought about entering the 2013 pageant, but it would have only been five months, so I didn’t because I wanted everything to be absolutely right. I didn’t want to do anything wrong with the residency requirement. I waited the full year and more.
“There’s no truth to these pageant claims. I did everything right. I have a house there with a friend, and Las Vegas is my home. I love the community.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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