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Miss USA 2011 winner: Alyssa Campanella of California

Alyssa Campanella, Miss California, reacts after being crowned the 2011 Miss USA, June 19, 2011, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobso
Alyssa Campanella, Miss California, reacts after being crowned the 2011 Miss USA on June 19, 2011, in Las Vegas.
AP

(CBS/AP) Updated 11:58 p.m. EDT

LAS VEGAS - Alyssa Campanella, a 21-year-old auburn-haired California girl, won the Miss USA crown on Sunday night.

Campanella, who is from Los Angeles, topped a field of 51 beauty queens to take the title at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. She will represent the nation in this year's Miss Universe pageant in September in Brazil.

Pictures: Miss USA 2011

Campanella won after strutting across the stage in a blue bikini with white polka dots and a dark turquoise evening gown with beading on its top.

She also answered a question about legalizing marijuana by saying she didn't think it should be fully legalized as a solution to help ailing economies.

"Well, I understand why that question would be asked, especially with today's economy, but I also understand that medical marijuana is very important to help those who need it medically," she said. "I'm not sure if it should be legalized, if it would really affect, with the drug war. I mean, it's abused today, unfortunately, so that's the only reason why I would kind of be a little bit against it, but medically it's OK."

Miss Tennessee Ashley Durham was the first runner-up. Contestants from Alabama and Texas placed third and fourth.

The ceremony was hosted by TV personalities Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic.

"Fashion Police" hosts Kelly Osbourne and Susie Castillo provided fashion commentary throughout the pageant, while the judging panel included "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Caroline Manzo, TV chef Rocco DiSpirito, Dallas Mavericks star Tyson Chandler and rapper Lil Jon.

Campanella replaces Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih. The Michigan woman teared up as she walked across the stage for a final goodbye.

The pageant had three competitions: swimsuit, evening gown and interview questions.

The contestants were whittled to 16 after the show's opening number, in which the beauty queens introduced themselves one-by-one. The top 16 were picked by preliminary judges through competitions and interviews during the week before the telecast. Judges picked the top eight after the swimsuit competition and the top 4 after the evening gown portion.