Deshauna Barber was presented her crown by the 2015 winner, Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma. The annual pageant was held Sunday in Las Vegas and saw 52 contestants vying for the crown.
The 26-year-old Army Reserve officer spoke of her service on Sunday, giving a powerful answer during the competition’s interview portion.
“As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military,” she said.
“We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I’m powerful, I am dedicated and it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States.”
The daughter of a retired Army master sergeant, Barber was commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer in 2011.
She is currently a Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, and works full time as an IT Analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce, according to her profile on the competition’s website.
She nodded to her servicewoman status in a promotional video during the competition.
“Attention: First Lieutenant Deshauna Barber is reporting for duty as #MissUSA 2016,” officials wrote alongside the video.
The Columbus, Georgia-native cried and stood speechless as Jordan placed the lavish crown on her head. After the win, Barber gave a brief statement in a video posted on the competition’s Twitter account.
“I was just crowned Miss USA 2016. This is so surreal,” she said in the clip. “I’m very much in disbelief. I’m moving to New York tomorrow and I cannot wait for this reign to start.”
Miss Georgia, Emanii Davis, was named the second runner-up while Miss Hawaii, Chelsea Hardin, was named the runner-up.
In addition to a woman representing each state as well as D.C., Alexandra Miller was voted in by fans this year as the 52nd competitor.
Miller was chosen from 10 ladies vying for the final spot, after competing in a nationwide search for “Miss 52,” a woman who best embodies Miss USA based on originality, personality and a web interview.
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The event included a performance with the Backstreet Boys, who performed with the Top 3 contestants ahead of the winner announcement.
2016’s winner will be the 65th Miss USA to represent the United States at the Miss Universe competition later this year.