Meriwether is the first Miss USA from Maryland in 55 years; Leona Gage won the title in 1957 but was dethroned shortly after

Meriwether is the first Miss USA from Maryland in 55 years; Leona Gage won the title in 1957 but was dethroned shortly after

Independent Online (IOL) – NANA Meriwether has made history – this week she became the first African American with South African roots to be crowned Miss USA.

This was after 20-year-old Boston University student Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe out of 88 other beauty queens from six continents at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas.

This means that 27-year-old Meriwether, who was crowned as Culpo’s first princess at the Miss USA pageant in June, will now take over from Culpo.

Meriwether’s mother, Nomvimbi, was born in Soweto, and in 1979 she received a scholarship from the UN and went to do post-graduate studies in the US. When she was on the verge of returning home, she met an American doctor and they married. They returned to the country and began working at a missionary hospital near the Kruger National Park.

And while Meriwether is an all-American girl – tall, skinny, with a drawling accent – her family still has deeply entrenched roots in the country as her grandparents, Ephraim and Elsie Kumalo, still live in Diepkloof Extension, and she still visits them regularly.

Her mother could barely contain her excitement yesterday, saying: “We haven’t slept. We’ve been dancing and celebrating all night. She’s so excited, we’re all so excited.”

Meanwhile, Meriwether’s supporters took to Facebook to congratulate her.

On Thursday, she got a call from Miss Universe Organization’s President Paula Shugart. Meriwether tweeted that she accepted the job.

She will be officially crowned after the holidays.

The last time the runner-up became Miss USA was in 1997, when Brandi Sherwood from Idaho took over the title as Hawaii’s Brooke Lee was crowned Miss Universe.