Kristen Dalton, Miss North Carolina

Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton has been crowned Miss USA 2009.

Dalton, 22, an aspiring motivational speaker who calls Wilmington home, edged past 50 beauty queens for the coveted honor Sunday, including first runner-up Miss California Carrie Prejean and second runner-up Miss Arizona Alicia-Monique Blanco. (Watch the crowning moment here.)

"It feels really natural," Dalton said. "I've worked so [hard to] be here and this has been my lifelong dream and it's finally here. And whoever knew you could win in a turquoise gown?"

Dalton wore a turquoise, Grecian-style dress for the evening-gown portion of the contest, while her competitors opted for white. The contestants were also judged in swimsuit and interview categories.

Dalton will now represent the United States in August's Miss Universe pageant in the Bahamas. She will also receive a New York apartment for a year, a public relations team, a two-year scholarship at the New York Film Academy and an undisclosed salary.