Olivia Culpo Crowned Miss USA 2012

On Sunday evening, during one of the year’s most watched live television events, a star-studded panel of judges chose Miss Rhode Island USA, Olivia Culpo, as Miss USA 2012.

Bravo’s “Watch What Happens: Live” host and executive producer Andy Cohen and “E! News” co-anchor Giuliana Rancic returned as hosts of the 61st Annual MISS USA Competition from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in one of the world’s most electrifying cities, Las Vegas.

Kelly Osbourne of E!’s “Fashion Police” and Jeannie Mai of Style Network’s “How Do I Look?,” were also on hand providing color commentary throughout the LIVE telecast.

Olivia Culpo is a 19 year-old from Cranson, Rhode Island and is a sophomore at Boston University where she has made the Dean’s List every semester. She grew up in a musical environment. Culpo has played cello for 13 years, sings, and plays the piano. As a cellist, Olivia won seats in Boston Symphony Hall and New York’s famed Carnegie Hall.

The judging panel for the 2012 MISS USA Competition included: Cat Cora, Chef, Philanthropist, Author and Co-Host of Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates; Ali Fedotowsky , Host of NBC TV’s “First Look” and Former Bachelorette; Arsenio Hall, Late Night Legend and Celebrity Apprentice Winner; Marilu Henner , New York Time Best-Selling Author, Actress, and Producer; Joe Jonas, Actor and Grammy Nominated Musician; Rob Kardashian, TV Personality and Entrepreneur; George Kotsiopoulos, Co-Host of E! “Fashion Police;” and Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008.

During the telecast, Akon performed “America’s Most Wanted” from his upcoming album, “Stadium,” during the “Final Look” portion of the pageant featuring the Top Five Finalists, and Cobra Starship performed a special medley that included both “#1Nite” and “You Make Me Feel” during the swimsuit competition.

Throughout the two-hour event, the contestants competed in three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview. Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA 2011, crowned her successor at the conclusion of the telecast, before an estimated worldwide viewing audience of more than 250 million.

For the second year in a row, fans voted online for their favorite contestant up until the evening before the telecast. The contestant with the most votes automatically reached the semifinals (Top 16).

Photo courtesy: Miss Universe Organization

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Rakesh Raman