Miss Mexico Jimena Navarrete was crowned Miss Universe 2010 in an upset victory that ‘stunned’ a pageant world which had predicted a winner to emerge from Ireland, Venezuela or the US.
Jimena Navarrete of Guadalajara, 22, beat the set of 83 hopefuls as they showed off swimsuits, evening gowns and interview skills in a bid to impress a panel of judges in Las Vegas.
The brunette wowed the crowd in a flowing red chiffon gown before revealing the importance to teach children family values. Earlier, she smiled in a violet bikini, confidently posing on stage. “I want to give my parents a big hug,” she said after the victory. “There was a lot of effort and a lot of sacrifice.”
Jimena Navarette – who has won prizes including a luxury New York apartment, a one-year scholarship to the New York Film Academy with housing after her reign, jewelry, clothes and shoes – was first to answer an interview question at the glamorous pageant, held on the Las Vegas Strip.
Asked by Olympic gold-medal figure skater Evan Lysacek how she felt about unsupervised Internet use, Navarrete said the Internet is important but parents need to be careful and watch over their children.
“I do believe that internet is an indispensable, necessary tool for the present time,” she said through an interpreter. “We must be sure to teach them the values that we learned as a family.”
Navarrete, who says she plans to study nutritional science, is expected to spend her year as Miss Universe drawing attention to the plight of people with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer.
First runner-up was Miss Jamaica Yendi Phillipps, while second runner-up was Miss Australia Jesinta Campbell.
Campbell also won the Miss Congeniality Universe award. Miss Thailand Fonthip Watcharatrakul won Miss Photogenic Universe and a second award for having the best national costume.
Miss Navarrete, who has been modeling since she was 15, is Mexico’s second Miss Universe. Lupita Jones of Mexico won the title in 1991. Miss Navarrete replaces Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela.
She was immediately congratulated on Twitter by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala.
“Congratulations to Jimena Navarrete for her deserved victory as Miss Universe,” Calderon said. “This will serve Mexico, [and] our image as a country.”
Navarrete’s win thwarted Miss Venezuela Marelisa Gibson from giving the South American country a third consecutive victory.
Neither Gibson nor Miss USA Rima Fakih – who caused controversy for being first American Muslim to become Miss USA – made the top 15 finalists. Miss USA has not been named Miss Universe since Brook Lee won the title in 1997.
Rima Fakih disappointed many Islamic leaders by saying she opposes construction of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York city. “I totally agree with President (Barack) Obama with the statement on constitutional rights of freedom of religion,” she told Inside Edition, the US tabloid TV show.
“I also agree that it shouldn’t be so close to the World Trade Center (site). We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion,” she added.
From Albania to Zambia, contestants from six continents strutted across the stage Monday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
With fans in some 190 countries watching on television and keeping tabs on Twitter, Navarrete and her competitors introduced themselves while wearing over-the-top national costumes.
They then danced in silver and black dresses for the show’s opening number before the top 15 finalists were announced.
The final 15 walked in swimsuits while Cirque du Soleil musicians played Elvis Presley songs including Viva Las Vegas. The last 10 impressed in their gowns while John Legend and the Roots played a soulful medley including Save Room.
By the end of the show, seven of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter had to do with the pageant, its contestants, its judges or owner Donald Trump.
The pageant started as a local bathing suit competition in Long Beach, California, organized by a swimwear company, in 1952. Miss Universe Pageant is owned by Donald Trump and broadcast on NBC. [via Daily Telegraph (UK), MS NBC and AceShowBiz]