From activewear and evening-gown rounds to a question-and-answer session, Missouri’s Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff dazzled the crowd and claimed the title of Miss Teen USA 2017 in Phoenix on Saturday.

Besides the crown and bragging rights, Dominguez-Heithoff won a $10,000 scholarship and $5,000 in cash.

Judges quickly narrowed the 15 semifinalists to five: Vanessa Matheson, of Oregon;  Alexis Smith, of Nevada; Jaanu Patel, of California; Paige Robinson, of Indiana; and Dominguez-Heithoff.

In the end, it came down to Matheson and Dominguez-Heithoff.

Dominguez-Heithoff, 17, graduated from high school a year early and is pursuing a degree in political science and ethics at the University of Kansas. She plans to attend law school afterward.

Dominguez-Heithoff created Community and Scholars Cooperatively, an organization that aims to make community service fun and easy for teenagers, with her peers. She also has worked with Missouri legislators to create policies that provide people with disabilities better care and resources. 

“It’s important to remember that as Miss Teen USA, you are a role model for the entire United State of America,” Dominguez-Heithoff said during the question-and-answer session, dressed in a periwinkle satin gown. “I would love to be the Miss Teen USA that could accept everyone, especially for their differences.”

All 51 Miss Teen USA participants — representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia — spent the week exploring Phoenix together, hiking South Mountain and scouring the Arizona Science Center.

And in true Arizona fashion, a dust-storm warning went off in the middle of the competition, causing a commotion in the audience and stopping hosts Heidi Powell and Erin Lim mid-sentence.

Karlina Riggs, Miss Arizona Teen USA from Scottsdale, also made it to the semifinals. She will start her senior year at Chaparral High School in August.


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