- Associated Press - Sunday, June 3, 2012

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Beauty queens from Rhode Island, Nevada, Maryland, Ohio and Georgia are the top five finalists at the Miss USA pageant.

The annual competition opened in Las Vegas on Sunday night with a fashion show that sent the 51 contestants down the runway in sparkly gowns, bright mini-dresses and colorful hats.

The pageant at the Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip has three competitions: swimsuit, evening gowns and interview question. Midway through the contest, pop band Cobra Starship performed as the beauty queens modeled their string bikinis.

Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella will crown her successor at the end of the night.

The winner will represent the United States at the 61st Miss Universe pageant.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

A beauty queen celebrating her 27th birthday and a Latina who became the first in her family to graduate from college are among the remaining Miss USA finalists.

The annual competition opened in Las Vegas on Sunday night with a fashion show that sent the 51 contestants down the runway in sparkly gowns, bright mini-dresses and colorful hats.

The contest was quickly whittled down to 16 women, including Miss South Carolina USA Erika Powell, who was celebrating her birthday, and Miss Colorado USA Marybel Gonzalez, her family’s first college graduate. Beauty queens from Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas also were also among the finalists.

Miss Iowa USA Rebecca Hodge was named Miss Congeniality, and Miss Oregon USA Alaina Bergsma was named the most photogenic. They both won $1,000, but didn’t make the top 16.

The pageant at the Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip has three competitions: swimsuit, evening gowns and interview question. Midway through the contest, pop band Cobra Starship performed as the beauty queens modeled their string bikinis.

The judge’s panel includes Chef Cat Cora, TV personality Arsenio Hall, singer Joe Jonas and reality TV star Rob Kardashian. The show also will feature performances from Akon. Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic stepped in to host. Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella will crown her successor at the end of the night.

The winner will represent the United States at the 61st Miss Universe pageant. An American has not been named Miss Universe since Brook Lee won the title in 1997.

The Miss Universe Organization is co-owned by NBC and Donald Trump. The competition is not affiliated with the Miss America pageant.

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