Winner of Miss universe 2008 miss Venezuela- Dayana Mendoza
Miss Venezuela, 22-year-old Dayana Mendoza, won the Miss Universe pageant held in Vietnam on Monday, beating runners-up from three other Latin American countries and Russia.
The 178-centimeter (five foot 10) beauty, who had been the favourite of many pageant watchers and online bookmakers, clinched the diamond-studded gold crown after answering a question on the difference between men and women.
“Men think that the fastest way to go to a point is to go straight,” explained the trilingual contestant from Amazonas state. “Women know that the faster way to go to a point is to go to the curves.”
Wearing a yellow evening gown, she burst into tears of joy when the presenter, US talkshow host Jerry Springer, announced she had won, beating finalists from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Russia.
Her prize package includes cash, a year-long contract promoting Miss Universe, world travel, a rent-free New York City luxury apartment and a giftbag stuffed with free designer shoes, dresses and beauty products.
In the world of beauty contests, Venezuela — where such contests are held in schools, villages and even prisons — is considered a “pageant superpower” with four previous Miss Universe and five Miss World winners.
Riyo Mori trao vương miện cho Dayana Mendoza, kết thúc một năm thực hiện nghĩa vụ Hoa hậu Hoàn vũ.
Miss Venezuela-Dayana Mendoza– miss universe 2008 – tân Hoa Hậu Hoàn vũ
Every schoolgirl, it is said, knows the magic Venezuelan beauty formula — 90-60-90 — their body measurements in centimeters, and past pageant controversies are the stuff of passionate debate.
The Miss Universe contest in Vietnam was presented by Springer, who rode in on one of Vietnam’s ubiquitous motor-scooters, and a tanned ex-“Spice Girl” Mel B, who greeted the crowd with a hearty “Good Morning, Vietnam!”
The salutation, made famous on a wartime radio station for American GIs here, was apt since the “Final Evening” was held at 8 a.m. local time to coincide with prime-time Sunday evening TV slots in the United States and Latin America.
The 80 contestants were introduced in their national costumes, with Miss New Zealand sporting a Maori-style facial tattoo, Miss Korea twirling a martial arts sword and Miss Albania dazzling in a vampire theme.
Heartbreak came quickly for 65 of the beauties when Springer and Mel B announced the 15 semi-finalists, a list chosen last week but kept highly classified by the event group, co-owned by US millionaire Donald Trump.
Also on the shortlist of 15 women were the contestants from Australia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kosovo — represented for the first time — South Africa, Spain, USA and Vietnam.
A panel of judges, mostly from the fashion, modelling and media industries, quickly thinned out their ranks to 10, based on how gracefully they negotiated the runway in skimpy bikinis, and what Mel B called the “wow factor.”
Vietnam home girl Nguyen Thuy Lam was eliminated at this stage, to the dismay of local fans who had paid up to US$1,800 for seats in the 7,500-seat Crown Convention Centre of the Diamond Bay resort in Nha Trang.
Also out were Japan, Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa.
Next came the evening gown section, considered a traditional beauty pageant minefield in which women must avoid tripping over their flowing dresses — which is exactly what happened to 26-year-old Miss USA Crystle Stewart.
The last women left standing were Russia and Latin frontrunners Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela who had featured strongly in the predictions of pageant-watcher websites and bloggers.
The Best National Costume went to Thailand’s Gavintra Photijak, 21, who chose a martial arts theme presented with a frightening Muay Thai knee kick.
On a more benign note, the Miss Congeniality award — based on a popularity poll among the contestants — went to Miss El Salvador Rebeca Moreno, 22.