Las Vegas - A 20-year-old beauty queen who plays the cello and is a breast cancer advocate was crowned Miss Universe on Wednesday, the eighth time an American has won the pageant where the world's most beautiful women parade in bikinis and ball gowns.
Olivia Culpo, 20, a brunette from Rhode Island, was chosen by a 10-judge panel from 89 contestants representing countries ranging from India to Kosovo and Britain.
Culpo, wearing a red, long-sleeved dress for her final look, was 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.
Miss Philippines, 23-year-old Janine Tugonon, was the runner-up and Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, came third after the top five answered brief questions posed by the judges.
Culpo takes the place of last year's winner Leila Lopes, who was the first ever Miss Universe from Angola.
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.
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.
Culpo will travel the world for the next year representing the Miss Universe Organisation and a charity of her choice.
After reaching the top five, Culpo was asked to name one thing she would never do again. "Picking on my siblings growing up," she replied.
The contest, owned jointly by businessman Donald Trump and the NBC network, held a moment of silence for the 20 children and six staff gunned down at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on 14 December.
24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.
Britain's baby Prince George has stepped out in public with his parents for the first time in Australia, for an encounter with wildlife at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Read More »
Royal watchers are scrutinising the duchess of Cambridge on her New Zealand tour after husband Prince William appeared to hint a second baby is on the way. Read More »
New great pics of George!
20 new pics of Kate and William.
6 best pics from the royal tour!
Check out these pics of Prince George!
10 pics from Will and Kate's visit.
Kate and Will wows the crowd!
Will and Kate hanging out with Peter Jackson.
10 photos of adorable Prince George!
South AfricaCity PressMarket Related
South AfricaCommunicate Cape Town ITR24000 - R27000
HousesR 2 460 000
HousesR 1 495 000
HousesR 1 895 000