Nia Sanchez (born February 16, 1990) is an American beauty pageant titleholder who won Miss USA 2014. Sanchez is the first woman from the state of Nevada to be crowned Miss USA. She will represent the USA in Miss Universe 2014.
Sanchez is a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo. She began the sport at age 8. She has also studied jazz and ballet for 5 years. At age 17, she visited Kenya and has spent three months per year serving on a mission in Mexico. During her Miss Nevada USA and Miss USA time periods she has been dating Daniel Booko.After high school graduation she spent time living in Europe as a nanny and had visited 12 countries around the world before becoming Miss Nevada USA. She worked at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2012 for 7 months. She acted as a princess.
Nia Sanchez was born in Sacramento, California on February 16, 1990 to David Sanchez and Heidi Sanford. Her father is a military veteran and her mother was a full-time homemaker. Her parents divorced when she was six years old and during that transition she briefly lived in Shade Tree, a Las Vegas women's shelter, with her mother.When she was seven years old, she and her family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada.When she was eight she and her brother (David, Jr.), moved back to Menifee, California with their father, and she went on to graduate from Paloma Valley High School in 2008.
Her first beauty pageant was the Miss San Jacinto at age 13. Winning Miss Citrus Valley USA at age 19 qualified her to compete in the Miss Latino competition in Ecuador.
Miss Reina Mundial de Banano 2011
Sanchez competed at the Miss Reina Mundial de Banano 2011 representing USA but failed to place as a semi-finalist.
Miss California USA
Sanchez first competed in Miss California USA 2010 and placed as 2nd runner-up out of 133 contestants in the Miss California USA 2010 Pageant (as Miss Citrus Valley USA) held from November 20–22, 2009. Sanchez has competed in and won Miss Citrus Valley USA 2010, Miss Riverside County USA 2011, and Miss Hollywood USA 2012.Each resulted in an unsuccessful Miss California USA bid.
Miss Nevada USA
Miss South Las Vegas USA Sanchez was crowned as Miss Nevada USA by Chelsea Caswell on January 12, 2014 at Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, winning on her first attempt.
Miss USA 2014
Sanchez represented Nevada at Miss USA 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she was crowned as the winner by outgoing titleholder Erin Brady of Connecticut on June 8, 2014. During the final question portion she was asked by judge Rumer Willis about the high rate of sexual assault among undergraduate women to which she responded that it is important to be able to defend yourself. She was the first Miss Nevada USA contestant to win Miss USA and the fourth Hispanic to win Miss USA after Laura Harring in 1985,Lynnette Cole in 2000, and Susie Castillo in 2003 Ironically, for the Henderson, Nevada resident, this was the first time since Miss USA 2007 that the contest had not been held in Nevada.
After winning Miss USA, a carpetbagger controversy arose regarding her claimed Nevada residence. After failing to win Miss California USA in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sanchez reportedly created a paper trail to establish eligibility to compete in Miss Nevada USA. Supposedly Sanchez worked at Disneyland until November 2013 and earned Miss Nevada USA in January 2014. Additionally, she is represented by AC Talent Agency, which has Las Vegas and Los Angeles offices, but is listed as based out of Los Angeles. Rules state that Miss Nevada USA eligibility requires 6 months residency based on two documents from the following list: "voter ID or registration card, tax return, school records, employment documents, telephone bill, utility bill, bank statement, credit card statement or lease/deed." Supposedly, Sanchez spoke with Miss Nevada USA pageant director Shanna Moakler to determine the minimum eligibility requirements. However, Sanchez has stated that she owns a home in Las Vegas and listed herself as based in Los Angeles as a marketing ploy due to the types of opportunities available in Los Angeles relative to those available in Las Vegas.
Miss Universe 2014
Sanchez will represent the USA at Miss Universe 2014 where she will compete to succeed Gabriela Isler of Venezuela.