Life's a fairytale: Former Hong Kong Disneyland princess wins Miss USA title
This year's Miss USA winner Nia Sanchez once wore a different sort of crown - as a real-life Disney princess in Hong Kong.
The 24-year-old former Miss Nevada beat 50 other contestants to be crowned Miss USA on Sunday evening.
But prior to her beauty pageant days, Las Vegas native Sanchez spent her days volunteering at women's shelters and travelling the world, spending extensive time in Mexico and Europe.
In 2012, her travels culminated in a seven-month stint at Hong Kong Disneyland as various characters including Belle, Snow White and Cinderella.
"Every time [Disneyland] has an audition, there are about 4,000 girls who show up for maybe just five openings," Sanchez told the Las Vegas Sun, one of the city's two local newspapers.
"I didn't know if I'd get it. I went on a fluke and was lucky enough to be picked, so I lived [in Hong Kong] for seven months … I took part in the parades, the shows and the meet-and-greets there for Disneyland and loved every moment of it."
Sanchez described her Hong Kong stay as one of the best experiences of her life, and added that the park was a far cry from its California counterpart.
"Going [to Hong Kong Disneyland] was just completely different with the culture, and the food was very interesting," Sanchez said. "Always the traveller, I got to go to Thailand and the Great Wall of China while I was there."
After returning to Las Vegas from Hong Kong, Sanchez competed in the local pageant circuit and was crowned Miss Nevada on January 12.
The first Miss USA winner from the state of Nevada, Sanchez will go on to represent the United States at Miss Universe 2014. If she wins, she will succeed reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler of Venezuela.