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

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.