Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old beauty queen from Rhode Island, won the Miss Universe 2012 crown Wednesday night at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, beating out 88 other competitors.
The 20-year-old Olivia Culpo was chosen by a 10-judge panel from 89 contestants representing countries ranging from India to Kosovo.
The panel of 10 judges included singer Cee Lo Green, “Iron Chef” star Masaharu Morimoto and Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants.
Culpo takes the place of last year’s winner Leila Lopes, who was the first-ever Miss Universe from Angola.
The winner wore a tight navy blue mini-dress with a sequined bodice as she walked on stage for the competition’s opening number. Later in the night, she strutted in a purple and blue bikini, and donned a wintery red velvet gown with a plunging neckline.
For her final look Culpo was wearing a red, long-sleeved dress.
Olivia’s coronation ends a long losing spell for the U.S. in the competition co-owned by Donald Trump and NBC. She is the eighth winner from the United States in the contest’s 60-year history, and the first Miss USA to take the title since 1997.
According to the Huff Post, the girl was good enough during preliminary competitions to be chosen as one of 16 semifinalists who moved on to compete in the pageant’s finale. Her bid lasted through swimsuit, evening wear, and interview competitions that saw cuts after each round.
The 23-year-old Janine Tugonon, Miss Philippines, was the runner-up and Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, came third after the top five answered brief questions posed by the judges.
Miss Guatemala, Laura Godoy, was chosen Miss Congeniality after the two-hour pageant that featured live performances by US pop group Train and Nigerian-born Australian singer and dancer Timomatic.
This was the 61st year of the Annual Miss Universe contest that started in 1952 with Finland’s Armi Kuusela winning the crown. This year contestants from 89 countries in six continents took part, spending the last couple of weeks in Sin City.
As Miss Universe, Culpo will receive an undisclosed salary, a wardrobe fit for a queen, a limitless supply of beauty products, and a luxury apartment in New York City.
The pageant started as a local revue in Long Beach, Calif., organized by Catalina Swimwear. It is not affiliated with the Miss America pageant and unlike that contest, does not include a talent section. Contestants must be aged between 18 and 27, unmarried and with no children.
The contest was broadcast live on US television from the Planet Hollywood hotel and casino in Las Vegas and seen by an estimated 1 billion viewers on TV and online in 190 countries, organisers said.
Olivia grew up in Cranston with two professional musicians for parents and has played the cello alongside world-renowned classical musician Yo-Yo Ma. On her Miss Universe page, she said she hopes to pursue a career in film or television, and cites Audrey Hepburn as a role model because of her “generosity, intelligence and grace.”
With Culpo’s promotion, Miss Maryland Nana Meriwether becomes the new Miss USA.