Las Vegas, Aug 24: Miss Mexico Jimena Navarrete, 22, won the Miss Universe crown Monday night, beating 82 other beauties from around the world at a Las Vegas pageant.
The final of the contest, which had been expected to attract over 600 million viewers, was broadcast around the world from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Monday night in an event hosted by NBC entertainment anchor Natalie Morales and rocker Bret Michaels.
The judges of the event, which is owned by property magnate Donald Trump, included actor William Baldwin, singer Chynna Phillips, musician Sheila E, Olympian Evan Lysacek, actress Jane Seymour, supermodel Niki Taylor and illusionist Kris Angel.
The judges rated the contestants on their appearances in a variety of costumes, including a swimsuit competition, and also on their answers to a series of questions.
Navarrete stressed the importance of family values and parental supervision of their children when answering a question about censorship of the internet posed by Olympic skating champion Lysacek.
“I do believe that internet is an indispensable, necessary tool for the present time,” she said. “We must be sure to teach them the values that we learned as a family.”
In addition to Miss Mexico, the finalists, who had to answer interview questions following the evening gown parade, were Miss Philippines, Venus Raj, 22, Miss Australia, Jesinta Campbell, 19, Miss Jamaica, Yendi Phillipps, 24, and Miss Ukraine Anna Poslavska, 23. First runner-up was Phillipps, while second runner-up was Campbell.
Miss USA, Rima Fakih, who was reportedly the first Muslim American to represent the US in the competition, was eliminated even prior to the swimsuit contest and failed to make the last 15.
The major controversy surrounding this year’s event had been the decision of organisers to release photos of many of the contestants adorned with nothing more than body paint. When prudish commentators in the US accused the organisation of reaching a new low, a spokesman for Miss Universe vigorously defended the move.
“The contestants who compete at Miss Universe are diverse, as they represent more than 82 countries around the globe,” said organisers in a statement. “Many of their cultures embrace nudity.”