Last year's Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, won that international crown, becoming the first Miss USA to ascend to Miss Universe in 16 years. Meriwether, who had been first runner-up, took over for her for the remainder of the year.
The Miss USA hopefuls stayed at the Planet Hollywood casino for the past week, but the flashing slot machines and ubiquitous oversized novelty drinks have been little more than a background to a stuffed schedule of product tie-in media events, including hairdo contests and paddleboat competitions.
The animal rights organization People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals is using the pageant to stage a protest of fur and the tradition of awarding furs to winners of some state pageants.
PETA has made a provocative ad featuring four nude former Miss USA winners. The tagline is: "Feel Beautiful in Your Own Skin, and Let Animals Keep Theirs."
Yvette Cruz contributed to this report.
Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier