Miss USA Hopeful Opens Up About Her Scar: 'I Got Branded'

Yahoo! TV
Miss USA 2013
Miss West Virginia USA 2013, Chelsea Welch, poses in evening gown upon arriving to Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. She will spend the next two weeks touring, filming, rehearsing, and making new friends while preparing to compete for the coveted MISS USA Diamond Nexus Crown. Tune in to the crowning moment LIVE on NBC starting at 9:00 PM ET on June 16th, 2013 from PH Live.?

The next Miss USA could have a more permanent accessory than a crown.

Miss West Virginia Chelsea Welch carries a mark on her back from her time studying abroad in Tanzania. But it's not a scar from an injury or accident — she chose to put it on her body!

[Photos: Miss USA Contestants Carbo-Load Ahead of Pageant... Or Do They?]

"The Massai, they put a lot of burns and scars on their body. They think it beautifies them," she explained to Yahoo! TV. "So at the end of my trip they asked if I wanted to receive one of their traditional circle brands, so I thought, 'Well why not, let's go for it.'"

The 22-year-old grad student recently posted a "Road to the Crown" video with an image of herself getting the distinctive mark. As for its meaning, Welch remained coy. "The circle, they think is just a beautiful shape, I don't think there really is a specific meaning to the shape," she said.

See Welch getting branded:

Though her "why not?" rationale may seem like it was an impulsive decision, Welch "thought about it for awhile."

"I thought, well, if I ever do a pageant one day or model one day, I'd want it in a place where I could easily hide it. So I have it on my upper back," she revealed.

But the opinions of pageant judges was far from the biggest concern for Welch. Of greater worry? Mom!

[Related: Miss USA Nana Meriwether Crushes on Prince Harry: 'We Should Get Married!'

"I didn't tell my mom because I knew she'd be mad at me," Welch told us. "I had a friend take my photo while it was happening and I uploaded it as my profile picture on Facebook and that was the first time that my mom knew that I did it and she called me so upset."

Considering Welch is now a leading candidate for the title of Miss USA — with the brand — guess Mom didn't have much to be upset about!

Check out photos of the Miss USA 2013 contestants:

Tune into NBC June 16 at 9 PM to see if Welch will be crowned the 2013 Miss USA.

Additional reporting by Chrissy Le Nguyen.