Colombia’s Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe yesterday, beating out contenders from the United States, Ukraine, Jamaica and The Netherlands at the world’s top beauty pageant in Florida.
The 22-year-old model and business student triumphed over 87 other women from around the world, and is only the second beauty queen from Colombia to take home the prize.
The last time Colombia won the crown was in 1958 when Luz Marina Zuluaga took home the title.
Vega, wearing a long silver sequined gown, was beaming and tearful as she accepted her sash and crown from reigning Miss Universe, Venezuelan Gabriela Isler.
Vega spoke proudly of her country, and said in the question round that Colombia “has been a role model for the rest of the world. We are persevering people, despite all the obstacles, we keep fighting for what we want to achieve. After years of difficulty, we are leading in several areas on the world stage.“
Vega won highest possible score of 9.9 in every presentation at the Miss Universe Colombia contest, according to the pageant’s website.
The five-foot-nine (180 centimeter) model from Barranquilla is the granddaughter of legendary tenor Gaston Vega and 1953 Miss Atlantico, Elvira Castillo.
The 63rd edition of the Miss Universe pageant, held at Florida International University, geared up with the traditional parade of eye-catching national costumes before a full house of enthusiastic fans.
The contest, owned by Donald Trump, is watched by about 600 million worldwide, pageant officials say.
The Miss Universe contest started out in 1952 as a local “bathing beauty” competition organized by a swimwear company in Long Beach, California.