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For the first time in over a decade, the Miss Universe crown went to Miss USA last night, with Rhode Island’s Olivia Culpo winning the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.
The 20-year-old Boston University student was picked by a 10-member jury and competed in a group of 89 contestants, notes Reuters. She is the eighth Miss USA to win and just the first since 1997. Culpo succeeds Leila Lopes, last year’s winner from Angola.
According to CBS News, during the first segment, Culpo wore a tight navy blue mini-dress. She followed that up with a purple and blue bikini and a velvet red gown for the final number.
Her father, Peter, said that they were surprised when Culpo said she was interested in entering the Miss Rhode Island competition last year. The family “looked at her like she had three heads,” he said. “We didn't know a thing about pageants.”
Culpo, who won Miss USA in June, said that she hoped that her win gave the country some good news after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. “It's such an honor to be representing the USA in an international beauty contest in spite of all the tragedy that's happened in this country lately...I really hope that this this will raise everybody's spirits a little.”
The runners-up included Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon and Miss Venezuela Irene Sofia Esser Quintero. Miss Guatemala Laura Godoy won Miss Congeniality.
Culpo will now travel around the world, representing the Miss Universe Organization, which is co-owned by Donald Trump, to do charity work.