The new Miss Teen USA calls her use of racist language on social media a "careless mistake," saying she was influenced by friends.
The 18-year-old Texan Karlie Hay in a "Good Morning America" interview on Tuesday apologized for her tweets in 2013 and 2014 that used the N-word.
The posts were unearthed hours after she was crowned the winner of the beauty pageant Saturday in Las Vegas.
Hay said she's ashamed and that she was being a follower, trying to fit in with friends and influenced by the music she listened to.
The beauty queen said she has since grown up and hopes that others will learn from her mistake.
The Miss Universe Organization condemned the tweets but has stood by her as critics called for Hay to lose her crown.