Alyssa Campanella describes herself as a "history buff' and history book collector who's "obsessed with the Tudor and Stuart eras."
But, as impressive as all that is, it was more likely Campanella's green eyes, red hair and ability to wear an emerald green gown in such a striking manner that won her the Miss USA 2011 crown Sunday during the nationally televised pageant from Planet Hollywood Resort.
Campanella, 21, succeeds Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih and will represent the United States in the Miss Universe competition Sept. 12 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Miss Nevada USA Sarah Chapman, 27, a preschool director from Henderson, was not among the first round of 16 quarterfinalists selected Sunday.
First runner-up Sunday was Miss Tennessee USA Ashley Durham. Rounding out the roster of finalists were second runner-up Miss Alabama USA Madeline Mitchell and third runner-up Miss Texas USA Ana Rodriguez.
Contestants appeared in swimsuits and evening gowns, and the four finalists answered questions from judges. The latter has proven to be a minefield for a few pageant contestants in recent years, but Sunday's questioning drew no controversial answers.
Campanella's question, from Caroline Manzo of the reality series "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," was about whether marijuana should be legalized and taxed to help financially strapped states. Campanella answered that, while she wasn't sure it should be legalized, she does recognize its value for medical use.
Other judges' questions this year involved the burning of holy books, advice for women whose high-profile husbands humiliate them by having affairs, and whether cyberbullies should be prosecuted if their bullying results in deaths.
During a post-pageant press conference, Campanella proved herself to be both quick-witted and funny. Asked "Star Wars or Star Trek?" Campanella chose the former.
"I love Yoda. I love Darth Vader," she said. "I love Padme Amidala's hair. I mean, come on."
Asked to name her favorite queen, Campanella, a model and aspiring entertainer, went with Mary Stuart -- Mary, Queen of Scots -- and added that someone "should make a show about her one day," punctuating the plug with a few unsubtle coughs.
This year marked the 60th anniversary of the Miss USA pageant. In honor of the occasion, organizers brought to Las Vegas winners of previous Miss USA pageants and peppered the national broadcast on the NBC television network with archival photos and video footage.
And just as it has been for 59 previous years, part of the fun of this year's pageant was watching the assortment of awestruck spectators, photo badge-wearing contestants' relatives and gawking bystanders who attended it.
This year's fashion statements seemed to include tans, dresses short enough to give mid-'70s gym shorts a run for their money, and enough sequins, spangles and shiny things to make one long for a pin and a piece of cardboard.
In other awards, Miss Kentucky USA Kia Hampton was named Miss Congeniality USA and Miss Arizona USA Brittany Brannon was named Miss Photogenic USA.
Contact reporter John Przybys at 702-383-0280 or email him at email@example.com.