Miss Michigan Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA on Sunday night, becoming the first Arab-American to ever win the pageant.
Fakih, 24, a former New Yorker who was raised in Dearborn, Mich., beat out 50 other contestants, including runner-up Miss Oklahoma, for the grand prize.
When asked on stage how she felt about the big win, the petite brunette quipped, “Ask me after I’ve had a pizza.”
“I feel great. Thanks for hiring me, Donald Trump,” she said of the co-owner of the Miss USA pageant.
Fakih accepted her crown from Kristen Dalton, the outgoing Miss USA, at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Born in Lebonon, she emigrated with her parents to the United States as a baby and attended Catholic school in New York City until her family moved to Michigan in 2003.
She is a graduate the University of Michigan-Dearborn with degrees in economics and business management. She plans to begin law school after her year-long reign.
Fakih nearly tripped on the train of her long, strapless gown during the evening-wear portion of Sunday night’s the competition, broadcast live on NBC.
In the interview segment of the event, she was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance. She said yes.
“I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it’s a controlled substance,” said Fakih, who was raised in a household that celebrates both Christian and Muslim faiths.
She told reporters she sold her 1998 Ford Taurus to pay the $800 entry fee for the Miss Michigan pageant.
In addition to winning scholarships and a wardrobe fit for a queen, Fakih will be given a luxury New York City apartment to live in while she’s Miss USA.
Fakih, an advocate for breast and ovarian cancer awareness, will compete for the Miss Universe title later this year.
She is already bracing for questions about her roots.
“I think it would prove that Arabs don’t always try to separate themselves, but instead are integrated into American culture,” she recently told the Global Arab Network.
“It would show the world that yes, there are Arabs that are beautiful not only in looks, but also on the inside,” she said. “There are Arabs that are caring, that are good people, and who love the country they live in. I think it would make the Arab image a more positive one.”