After a nail biter of a finale, Miss Universe 2011 was crowned at the ceremony in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the winner was Miss Angola Leila Lopes, who beat out the 88 other young women to win the world’s largest beauty pageant Monday night.
As reported by Kevin Dolak and Sheila Marikar on ABCNew.com, Contestants hailing from 89 nations spent three weeks in Sao Paulo for the 60th anniversary of the beauty contest that had an anticipated worldwide audience of one billion.
Mexico’s Ximena Navarrete, last year’s winner, was on hand to relinquish her crown to 25-year-old Lopes, who according to her Facebook page was crowned Miss Angola UK 2010, Miss Fotogenia 2011 and Miss Angola 2011.
“Thank God I’m very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Lopes responded to her interview question of what she would change of her physical characteristics. “I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”
Lopes appeared before judges including race car driver Helio Castroneves to actress Vivica A. Fox and journalist Connie Chung in a bright yellow bikini and form-fitting gold and silver sequined evening gown.
Rounding out the top five at Monday’s pageant were Miss Brazil, Miss China, Miss Philippines and 23-year-old Miss Ukraine Olesia Stefanko, who was the first runner-up.
The top ten included young women from Australia, Costa Rica, France, Ukraine, Portugal, Panama, Philippines, Angola, China and Brazil. The third place contestant was Miss Philippines and the fourth Miss China.
Even before Monday’s pageant, Miss Universe was making headlines. Reports that Miss Colombia had shunned underpants during some of the pre-pageant activities led organizers to reprimand 22-year-old Catalina Robayo.
“Our supervisors talked to all of the contestants about dressing appropriately, and one of our p.r. people spoke to her, and apparently she said she was wearing underwear,” Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organization, told E! Online. “But regardless, it created quite a stir here for a few days.”
Pageant officials refused to confirm whether or not Robayo was wearing underwear. Her alleged ban on briefs hasn’t been the competition’s only problem. Officials were forced to return bikini bottoms from sponsor Catalina Brasil Swimwear after they were deemed too skimpy for audiences. (What flies on the sands of Rio, unsurprisingly, raises issues on prime time network TV.)
It’s far from the first time controversy’s reigned at one of Donald Trump’s many pageants. Carrie Prejean memorably condemned gay marriage at the 2009 Miss USA pageant, posed for partially nude photos and later lost her crown due to breach of contract. Last year, the Miss USA organization came under fire after releasing racy portraits of the contestants clad in lingerie.
It’s likely that the buzz leading up to Miss Universe translated to a bump in viewers for NBC’s Monday night broadcast. And there’s a silver lining for Miss Colombia.
“If it doesn’t work for her at Miss Universe, she could always go to Hollywood,” Shandi Finnessey, fashion commentator for the pageant, told ABCNews.com last week. “It worked for Paris and Britney.”
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Image: Andre Penner/AP Photo