06/16/2014 at 04:00 PM EDT
Miss USA is denying claims that she faked her residency
for an easier road to the coveted crown.
Nia Sanchez, 24, represented Nevada when she took home the title
last week – even though she worked at Disneyland and had unsuccessfully competed in Miss California USA competitions three times.
"I have lived in Nevada since fall of 2012 and it was an honor for me to represent the state at Miss USA," she said in a statement Monday. "I have traveled my entire life and lived all over the world, including Germany, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, in addition to Washington State, California, Nevada and now, as Miss USA, I live in New York for the first time in my life."
The controversy erupted when a source alleged to Fox News
that Sanchez had left "some minimum paper trail" connecting her to Nevada while still living in California.
But in another statement, the Miss Universe Organization defended Sanchez’s win.
"Nia Sanchez was issued a Nevada driver’s license in January of 2013, a full year before she competed at the Miss Nevada USA pageant," the statement read. "The Miss Universe Organization has no reason to question her residency and we are thrilled to welcome her to the organization and look forward to working with her in the coming year."