Miss Universe is an annual international beauty contest run by the Miss Universe Organization. Along with its rival contests - Miss World and Miss Earth - this pageant is one of the most publicized beauty contests in the world.
The contest was founded in 1952 by California clothing company Pacific Mills. The pageant became part of Kayser-Roth and then Gulf and Western Industries, before being acquired by Donald Trump in 1996.
In 1998, Miss Universe changed its name from Miss Universe, Inc. to Miss Universe Organization and The headquarters moved from Long Beach, Los Angeles to New York City that year. Donald Trump brought in a new team of professionals to the contest headed by its new CEO, Molly Miles, and president Maureen Reidy. Miles coined the slogan "Redefined for Today" for promotion of the pageants. That year, the new Miss Universe logo was born: The Woman with the Stars, which is still used today.
The current Miss Universe is Stefanía Fernández, from Venezuela. She won the title on August 23, 2009.
The first use of the title "Miss Universe" was as part of International Pageant of Pulchritude which began in 1926. These events, the first international contests, lasted until 1935 when the Great Depression and other events preceding World War II led to their demise. This pageant had no direct relationship with the modern event.
The winner of the later "Miss America 1951" pageant, Yolande Betbeze, refused to pose in a swimsuit from its major sponsor, Catalina swimwear. As a result, the brand's manufacturer Pacific Mills withdrew from Miss America and set up the Miss USA and Miss Universe contests. The first Miss Universe Pageant was held in Long Beach, California in 1952. It was won by Armi Kuusela from Finland, who gave up her title though not officially to get married to a Filipino tycoon, Virgilio Hilario, shortly before her year was complete. Until 1958 the Miss Universe title (like Miss America) was post-dated, so at the time Ms. Kuusela's title was Miss Universe 1953.
The pageant was first televised in 1955. CBS began nationally broadcasting the combined Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 1960 and, separately, from 1965. In 2003 NBC took over the television rights.
Stefanía Fernández, Miss Universe 2009
In the early years of the pageant, the delegates who made the cut were announced after the preliminary competition. From 1965 to the present day, the semi-finalists were not announced until the night of the main event. The semi-finalists once again competed in evening gown and swimsuit and a top 5 were announced. An interview portion was introduced in 1960 to decide the runners-up and winner.
From 1959 to 1964, there were slight format changes. In 1959 through 1963, there was no cut to 5 finalists; the runners-up and winners were called from the assembled 15 semi-finalists. In 1964, the top 15 became a top 10, and after a round of interview, the winner and runners-up were called from the 10 finalists.
In 1965, the pageant returned to the original format of a cut to 5 finalists, and remained so until 1989.
In 1969, a final question was posed to the last five contestants. The final question was an on-and-off feature of the pageant. In 1990, it had taken root and every pageant since, the final contestants have to answer a final question.
In 1990, the pageant implemented major format changes in the competition itself. Instead of five finalists, the field was reduced from 10 semi-finalists to 6. Each contestant then randomly selected a judge and answered the question posed by the judge. After that, the field was narrowed down further to a final 3. In 1998, the number of finalists was reduced to 5, although there still was a cut to a final 3. This continued to 2001, where the final 5 format was re-instated.
In 2000, the interview portion of the semi-finals was quietly dropped and the contestants once again, as in the early days of the pageant, competed only in swimsuit and gowns.
In 2003, the Top 15 was again selected instead of the Top 10. Cuts were made to make the Top 10, and eventually the Top 5. The final question varied, each coming from the final delegates themselves and the current Miss Universe.
In 2006, twenty semi-finalists were announced, with these delegates competing in the swimsuit competition. The number of competing delegates was then cut to ten, with those delegates competing in the evening gown competition. After that round of competition, the final five were announced, with the finalists competing in the "final question" or interview round. At the end of competition the runners-up were announced and the winner crowned by the outgoing queen.
In 2007 the format changed slightly with the top 15 moving to the swimsuit competition; from there, 10 selected contestants moved on to the evening gown competition where half were eliminated. The final five were competing in the "final question". At the end of competition the runners-up were announced an the winner crowned by the outgoing queen.
The Contest Today
The Miss Universe Organization, a New York–based partnership between NBC and Donald Trump, has run the contest since June 20, 2002. The current president is Paula Shugart. The Organization sells television rights to the pageant in other countries, and also produces the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contests with the winner of Miss USA representing the USA in Miss Universe.
Each year, bids are received by the Miss Universe organizers from organizations who wish to select the Miss Universe contestant for a country. This allows competition between different pageants to hold a country's license, as happened for Miss Italy and Miss France for example, when the licenses for their respective traditional organizations were revoked (the usual Miss France competition returned in 2004).
Usually a country's candidate selection involves pageants in major cities, with the winners competing in a national pageant, but this does not always occur. For example, in 2000 Australia's national pageant was abolished as a relic of a bygone era, with Australian delegates instead chosen by a modeling agency. Such "castings" are generally discouraged by the Miss Universe Organization, which prefers national pageants that preserve an aura of respectability and competition. Despite being "cast", Miss Australia, Jennifer Hawkins, was chosen as Miss Universe 2004. Later that year, Australia resumed its national pageant and chose Michelle Guy as Miss Universe Australia 2005.
Some of the most successful national pageants in the last decade have been Venezuela, USA, Puerto Rico, etc which command consistently high interest and television ratings in their respective countries. Recent arrivals in the pageant include China (2002), Albania (2002), Vietnam (2004), Georgia (2004), Ethiopia (2004), Latvia (2005), Kazakhstan (2006), Tanzania (2007) and Kosovo (2008); there have also been efforts to revive strong national pageants in South Africa, Canada, Spain, Japan; Latin America (especially Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia) among other regions. Prior powerhouses are Finland, Germany and Sweden. England is the most successful non-winning country with nine Top 5 positions.
There are continually efforts to expand the pageant, but the participation of some countries such as Algeria has proven difficult due to cultural barriers to the swimsuit competition, while others such as Mozambique, Armenia and Nepal have balked at sending representatives due to the cost (in fact, of all the major international pageants, the franchise fee for Miss Universe is the most expensive). As of 2007, only four countries have been present at every Miss Universe since its inception in 1952: Canada, France, Germany, and the United States. Many European countries allow 17-year-old contestants to compete in their pageants, while Miss Universe's minimum age is 18, so national titleholders often have to be replaced by their runners-up. Miss Universe also prohibits transsexual applicants and age fabrication.
The main Miss Universe Pageant, as of now, is held over a two week period in May and July. In the 1970s through the 1990s, the pageant was a month long. This allowed time for rehearsals, appearances, and the preliminary competition, with the winner being crowned by the previous year's titleholder during the final competition.
According to the organizers, the Miss Universe contest is more than a beauty pageant: women aspiring to become Miss Universe must be intelligent, well-mannered, and cultured. Often a candidate has lost because she did not have a good answer during the question responses rounds; although this section of competition has held less importance during recent pageants than it did in the twentieth century. Delegates also participate in swimsuit and evening gown competitions.
Currently, the final placement of the finalists is determined by a ranked vote, where each judge ranks each of the final three/five candidates, with the contestant posting the highest cumulative score becoming the winner. If there is a tie, which often happens when there are even members of the jury, the higher semifinal scores become decisive.
The winner is assigned a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, going overseas to spread messages about the control of diseases, peace, and public awareness of AIDS. Since Donald Trump took over the pageant, the winner has been given the use of a Trump Tower apartment in New York City for use during her reign.
Aside from the main winner and her runners-up, special awards are also awarded to the winners of the best National Costume, Miss Photogenic, and Miss Congeniality. Miss Congeniality is chosen by the delegates themselves. In recent years, Miss Photogenic has been chosen by popular internet vote (the winner used to be chosen by media personnel covering the event).
The competition for the Miss Universe title has seen many changes, although there have been several constants throughout its history. All the contestants compete in a preliminary round of judging (nowadays called the "Presentation Show") where the field is narrowed to a select number of semi-finalists. This number has fluctuated over the years. The very first Miss Universe pageant had ten semi-finalists. The next two years, the number of semi-finalists grew to 16. In 1955, the number dropped to a stable 15, which remained through 1970. In 1971, the number was reduced to 12. That number was further reduced to a mere 10 in 1984. This lasted until 2003, when the number of 15 was re-instated. In 2006, there were 20 semi-finalists, the highest number ever. In 2007, the Organization announced the Top 15 system would be back, which was also used in 2008.
In the early years, the contestants were judged in swimsuit and evening gown only. In later years, the contestants also competed in a preliminary interview round in a one-on-one meeting with each individual judge.
In 2007, 77 contestants started the competition; the top 15 moving to the swimsuit competition. From there, 10 were selected for the evening gown competition which halved the contenders to 5. These final five then answered a final question to decide the winner.
Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008
Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007
The Miss Universe crown used from 2002–2007 was designed by Mikimoto, the official jewellery sponsor of the Miss Universe Organization, and depicted the phoenix rising, signifying status, power and beauty. The crown has 500 diamonds of almost 30 carats (6.0 g), 120 South Sea and Akoya pearls, ranging in size from 3 to 18 mm diameter and is valued at $250,000. The Crown was designed specifically for the pageant on Mikimoto Pearl Island in Japan with the Mikimoto crown and tiara being first used for Miss Universe 2002.
2004 marked the first year for the Miss Universe pageant to use the Orenté musical score, the official Miss Universe soundtrack. The Orenté musical score is divided into eight sequences: the Orenté Introduction — the musical score played during the live-telecast as the voice over begins the Miss Universe pageant, the Orenté Major — used for the cue after commercial and during the announcement of the newly-crowned Miss Universe, the Orenté Elimination — used for the announcement of semi-finalists, the Orenté Fashion Presentation, the Orenté Interlude — used while showing the ten finalists, the Orenté Pregunta Final — used while the final five finalists answer the final question the Orenté Final Look — used for the final look of the five finalists, and the Orenté Announcement — used while announcing the positions of the final five delegates. In 2008, a new Orenté Fashion Presentation was played during the Fadil Berisha swimsuit photoshoot, the 2007 version was now the called the Orenté Curtain Call, which was used as Melanie B and Jerry Springer called out the delegates just before they made the first cut, making the Orenté musical score divided into nine sequences.
Further information: List of Miss Universe titleholders
Year Country/Territory Miss Universe National title Location
2009 Venezuela Stefanía Fernández Miss Venezuela Nassau, Bahamas
2008 Venezuela Dayana Mendoza Miss Venezuela Nha Trang, Vietnam
2007 Japan Riyo Mori Miss Universe Japan Mexico City, Mexico
2006 Puerto Rico Zuleyka Rivera Miss Puerto Rico Universe Los Angeles, USA
2005 Canada Natalie Glebova Miss Universe Canada Bangkok, Thailand
2004 Australia Jennifer Hawkins Miss Universe Australia Quito, Ecuador
2003 Dominican Republic Amelia Vega Miss Dominican Republic Panama City, Panama
2002 Russia (Dethroned) Oxana Fedorova Miss Russia San Juan, Puerto Rico
Panama Justine Pasek Miss Panamá
2001 Puerto Rico Denise Quiñones Miss Puerto Rico Universe Bayamón, Puerto Rico
2000 India Lara Dutta Femina Miss India Nicosia, Cyprus
In 2002, Russia's Oxana Fedorova won the Miss Universe crown. However, she was dethroned on September 23, 2002 by Miss Universe Organization. First runner-up, Panama's Justine Pasek continued the responsibilities as Miss Universe 2002.
]Hosts and Invited Artists
The following is a list of finals hosts and invited artists of the previous ten years. See List of Miss Universe hosts and invited artists for the full list of hosts and invited artists.
Year Masters of Ceremonies Color Commentators Special Musical Guests
2009 Billy Bush and Claudia Jordan None Heidi Montag, Flo Rida, David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland and music by Black Eyed Peas and Sean Kingston (Opening Number)
2008 Jerry Springer and Melanie Brown None Lady Gaga and music by Mika and Robin Thicke
2007 Vanessa Minnillo and Mario Lopez None RBD and music by Nelly Furtado and Sean Paul
2006 Carlos Ponce and Nancy O'Dell Shandi Finnessey and Carson Kressley Chelo and Vittorio Grigolo
2005 Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell None None
2004 Billy Bush and Daisy Fuentes None Gloria Estefan
2003 Billy Bush and Daisy Fuentes None Bond and Chayanne
2002 Phil Simms and Daisy Fuentes Brook Mahealani Lee Marc Anthony
2001 Elle Macpherson and Naomi Campbell Brook Mahealani Lee and Todd Newton Ricky Martin and La Ley
2000 Sinbad Julie Moran and Ali Landry Elvis Crespo, Montell Jordan, Dave Koz and Anna Vissi
Map of Miss Universe-winning countries and territories as of 2009.
]By Number of Wins
Country/Territory Titles Winning years
USA 7 1954, 1956, 1960, 1967, 1980, 1995, 1997
Venezuela 6 1979, 1981, 1986, 1996, 2008, 2009
Puerto Rico 5 1970, 1985, 1993, 2001, 2006
Sweden 3 1955, 1966, 1984
Japan 2 1959, 2007
Canada 1982, 2005
Australia 1972, 2004
India 1994, 2000
Trinidad & Tobago 1977, 1998
Thailand 1965, 1988
Finland 1952, 1975
Philippines 1969, 1973
Brazil 1963, 1968
Dominican Republic 1 2003
Panama 2002 (Inherited crown after Russia was dethroned)
Russia 2002 (Dethroned on September 23, 2002)
New Zealand 1983
South Africa 1978
By Country Tally
Anyone who follows the Olympic Games or other sporting events will be familiar with the concept of the Medal Table, which ranks countries based on their first (gold), second (silver) and third (bronze) place finishes. Below is a similar table of the top rankings for the Miss Universe pageant, based on all results from the first event in 1952 to the most recent competition in 2009. Note that, from 1990 to 2000, there was only a "Top 3" with the third and fourth runner-ups positions eliminated.
Rank Country/Territory Miss Universe 1st Runner-Up 2nd Runner-Up 3rd Runner-Up 4th Runner-Up Semifinalists Total
1 USA 7 8 6 1 5 27 54
2 Venezuela 6 6 5 4 2 13 36
3 Puerto Rico 5 1 2 1 3 5 17
4 Sweden 3 1 2 3 4 16 29
5 Brazil 2 5 0 2 3 17 29
6 Finland 2 3 5 1 1 6 18
7 Australia 2 1 2 2 2 4 12
8 Japan 2 1 1 2 3 9 18
9 India 2 1 1 1 1 13 19
10 Canada 2 1 1 1 0 11 16
Trivia and Statistics
Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (June 2009)
Electronic voting was introduced to television viewers in 1978 when the pageant was held in Acapulco, Mexico: for the first time in a televised pageant, the audience got to see how the judges voted. The pageant still uses a computer voting system. There is a team of three people who install, maintain, and operate the voting system. They sit somewhere in the audience area with a view of the stage, usually just in front of the accountants. They are listed in credits as “Computer Score Operators.” The same system is used for Miss Teen USA and Miss USA.
The highest score in a swimsuit competition was 9.880 and belongs to Miss Russia 2002, Oxana Fedorova
The highest score in a evening gown competition was 9.897 and belongs to Miss Colombia 1994, Carolina Gómez
The highest score in an interview competition was 9.843 and belongs to Miss Venezuela 1993, Milka Chulina
All these scores belonged to the Top 10 semifinal competitions, which included interviews until 2000.
After the new format of competition, once the top 10 interview was deleted, the highest scores were:
Top 5 Interview: 9.954 by Lara Dutta, from India.
For the full list of venues, see List of Miss Universe winners and venues.
6 winners have been crowned Miss Universe on their home turf:
1954: Miriam Stevenson (USA) was crowned in Long Beach, California, USA.
1956: Carol Morris (USA) was crowned in Long Beach, California, USA.
1960: Linda Bement (USA) was crowned in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.
1967: Sylvia Hitchcock (USA) was crowned in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.
1997: Brook Mahealani Lee (USA) was crowned in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.
2001: Denise Quiñones (Puerto Rico) was crowned in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
10 winners have crowned their successors on their home turf:
1954: Miriam Stevenson (USA) crowned 1955: Hillevi Rombin (Sweden) in Long Beach, California, USA.
1956: Carol Morris (USA) crowned 1957: Gladys Zender (Peru) in Long Beach, California, USA.
1960: Linda Bement (USA) crowned 1961: Marlene Schmidt (Germany) in Long Beach, California, USA.
1967: Sylvia Hitchcock (USA) crowned 1968: Martha Vasconcellos (Brazil) in Long Beach, California, USA.
1973: Maria Margarita Moran (Philippines) crowned 1974: Amparo Muñoz (Spain) in Manila, Philippines.
1980: Shawn Weatherly (USA) crowned 1981: Irene Sáez (Venezuela) in New York City, New York, USA.
1995: Chelsi Smith (USA) crowned 1996: Alicia Machado (Venezuela) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
1997: Brook Mahealani Lee (USA) crowned 1998: Wendy Fitzwilliam (Trinidad and Tobago) in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
1998: Wendy Fitzwilliam (Trinidad and Tobago) crowned 1999: Mpule Kwelagobe (Botswana) in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago.
2001: Denise Quiñones (Puerto Rico) crowned 2002: Oxana Fedorova (Russia) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
2002: Justine Pasek (Panama) crowned 2003: Amelia Vega (Dominican Republic) in Panama City, Panama
In 1972, the Miss Universe Pageant was held outside the continental US for the first time, taking place in Dorado, Puerto Rico.
Miss Universe was first held outside of U.S. territory when it held the pageant in Athens, Greece, for the Miss Universe 1973 pageant.
In 2008, the Miss Universe Pageant was held in a contemporary Communist state for the first time, taking place in Nha Trang - Khanh Hoa province, Vietnam.
Outside the continental US, Mexico has hosted the most Miss Universe pageants, with four. The various locations were:
Mexico: Acapulco (1978), Cancún (1989) and Mexico City (1993, 2007)
Apart from the United States and Mexico, the other territory/states to host the pageant more than once were:
Puerto Rico: Dorado (1972), Bayamón (2001), San Juan (2002)
Manila, Philippines (1974 & 1994)
Panama City, Panama (1986 & 2003)
Bangkok, Thailand (1992 & 2005)
See also: List of Miss Universe countries
The United States has performed the best throughout the pageant's entire history, with seven winners, eight first runners-up, six second runners-up, one third runner-up, five fourth runners-up, six finalists, and seventeen semi-finalists. Miss USA has missed the semi-finals only three times: 1976 (Barbara Peterson, from Minnesota), 1999 (Kimberly Pressler, from New York), and 2002 (Shauntay Hinton, from District of Columbia). In 1957, Leona Gage, from Maryland, was disqualified from the semi-finals after it was revealed that she was married and a mother.
After the USA, Venezuela is the next most successful nation in terms of overall placements in the semi-finals (36); it is followed in turn by Brazil and Sweden (both 29), Colombia(28), Germany (21), Israel (20), England and India (both 19), Finland and Greece (both 18), Japan, Puerto Rico and Norway (17), Canada, Mexico, Peru, and South Africa (16 each). Of these countries, only England has yet to win the contest (though now competes as part of Great Britain or United Kingdom)
The United States has been the most successful nation to compete in Miss Universe in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Venezuela won two crowns in the 1980s becoming the most successful country that decade. Puerto Rico and Venezuela have been most successful in the 1990s and 2000s with 3 crowns each.
The nations that have competed every single year of competition (from 1952 to date) are Canada, France, Germany, and the USA. Sweden lost this distinction when it failed to send a contestant in 2005. Israel missed the pageant in 1953, while Greece was absent in 1988 (its delegate withdrew because of illness) and Brazil in 1990 (Miss Brasil pageant wasn't contested).
Before becoming states in 1959, Alaska and Hawaii both sent delegates to the pageant during the 1950s. In fact, Miss Hawaii was 1st runner-up in 1952 and 2nd runner-up in 1958 (before winning Miss Universe as Miss USA in 1997), while Miss Alaska reached the semi-finals in 1957.
After the USA, Venezuela ranked second in terms of consecutive placements in the semi-finals: 21 years, from 1983 to 2003, nearly beating the United States' 22-year streak between 1977–1998. Of those 21 years, 13 times in a row Venezuela made the top 6 or higher (1991–2003).
Other than the USA and Venezuela, the countries that have made the semi-finals the most in a row are India (who in recent years has emerged as a pageant powerhouse) with 11 (1992–2002) consecutive placements; Germany with ten (1952 to 1961); and Finland with 8 (1962–1969). Now that record belongs to USA, which delegates have placed consecutively in the semifinals the last seven years (2003–2009).
Colombia had three first runner-up placements in a row (1992–1994) a streak that has been unparalleled in competition history. However, Venezuela had 3 in four years (1997, 1998 and 2000). Also, between 1996 and 1998, Venezuela had three consecutive placements in the top two with Alicia Machado winning the crown in 1996 and the first runner-up the next two years being Venezuelan.
Finland has had the most consecutive runners-up. For five years, from 1965 to 1969, its delegates placed among the five finalists without interruption (1965: Virpi Miettinen, first runner-up, 1966: Satu Östring, first runner-up, 1967: Ritva Lehto, third runner-up, 1968: Leena Brusiin, second runner-up, and 1969: Harriet Eriksson, first runner-up).
Both Puerto Rico and Venezuela have had at least one winner in each of the last four decades, the only two nations/territories to accomplish this feat.
Puerto Rico: Marisol Malaret in the 70s (1970), Deborah Carthy-Deu in the 80s (1985), Dayanara Torres in the 90s (1993), and Denise Quiñones (2001) and Zuleyka Rivera (2006) in the 2000s.
Venezuela: Maritza Sayalero in the 70s (1979), Irene Sáez (1981) and Bárbara Palacios Teyde (1986) in the 80s, Alicia Machado in the 90s (1996), Dayana Mendoza (2008) and Stefanía Fernández (2009) in the 2000s.
Miss Universe 1955, Hillevi Rombin of Sweden, is the only deceased Miss Universe title holder since the pageant's inception. She was also the first winner to witness her victory being aired on television.
Miss Universe 1957, Gladys Zender from Peru was the youngest Miss Universe in history. She was 17 when she won the title.
On three occasions, contestants that did not place in Miss World: Georgina Rizk, Angela Visser, and Mpule Kwelagobe, won Miss Universe. However, no contestant who failed to place at Miss Universe has ever gone on to win Miss World.
Eight Miss Universe delegates placed as runner-up or semi-finalist in that pageant and later won the Miss World title. They were: Susana Duijm - semi-finalist, Venezuela 1955; Corine Rottschäfer - semi-finalist, Holland 1958; Rosemarie Frankland - first runner-up, Wales 1961; Madeleine Hartog Bell - semi-finalist, Peru 1966; Eva Rueber-Staier - semi-finalist, Austria 1969; Helen Morgan - first runner-up, Wales 1974 (dethroned); Gina Swainson - first runner-up, Bermuda 1979 and Agbani Darego - semi-finalist, Nigeria 2001.
At 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) tall, Miss Thailand 1965, Apasra Hongsakula was the shortest Miss Universe ever crowned.
At 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall, Miss Dominican Republic 2003, Amelia Vega was the tallest Miss Universe ever crowned.
In 1957, Miss USA Mary Leona Gage was disqualified for being married and a mother, though she had qualified for the semi-finals. She was replaced by Miss Argentina, Mónica Lamas.
Irene Sáez, Miss Universe 1981, ran for President of Venezuela in 1998, after having been elected mayor of Chacao in 1992 and governor of Margarita Island in 1999.
Miss Haiti, Evelyn Miot, became the first black woman to make it to the semi-finals in 1962.
Trinidad & Tobago's Janelle Commissiong became the first woman of African descent to be crowned Miss Universe, in 1977 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The first black African to win Miss Universe was Mpule Kwelagobe, of Botswana, crowned in 1999 at Chaguaramas, Trinidad & Tobago.
Only once have black women won Miss Universe in succession. Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad & Tobago won the title in 1998, followed by Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana in 1999.
Andrea Stelzer was Miss South Africa in 1985, but pulled out of Miss Universe because of anti-apartheid demonstrations. She competed in 1989 as Miss Germany, and was a top 10 semi-finalist.
Miss Lebanon 2001, Christina Sawaya, pulled out of the 2002 Miss Universe competition because of the participation of Miss Israel. She went on to win the rival Miss International competition in the same year.
2002's winner, Oxana Fedorova of Russia, became the first Miss Universe who officially did not finish her reign, making first runner-up Justine Pasek the first Panamanian to hold the title. Fedorova was crowned in Puerto Rico in mid-May, and was replaced by Pasek in late September. It is unclear whether Fedorova was fired for failure to perform her duties (the official version), or chose to resign because she had not expected the heavy workload.
The strong rivalry between Puerto Rico and Venezuela is so well-known in Latin-American popular culture, that their struggle has been immortalized in several Spanish-language television commercials in the United States for such companies as MasterCard and Budweiser. In the latter, former Miss Universe winners Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico and Alicia Machado of Venezuela caused mayhem in a sports bar as they competed to win the admiration of the men present.
A new trend of delegates representing countries they were not born in has developed. Miss Universe 2002 Justine Pasek was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where her Panamanian mother was completing her University studies. Miss Israel 2005, Elena Ralph was also born in Ukraine and moved to Israel when she was 18 years old. The most famous country-swapper was probably Natascha Börger. After placing 12th in the 2000 Venezuelan pageant she moved to Germany where she easily won the crown of Miss Deutschland 2002. Other notable contestants who represented countries other than their birth place include the Miss Universe Canada and Miss Universe 2005 Natalie Glebova who is Russian by birth, Miss Universe Canada 2006 Alice Panikian who is Bulgarian by birth, Miss Germany Universe 2006 Natalie Ackermann who is Colombian by birth, and Venezuelan born Francys Sudnicka representing Poland. Such is also reflected in the growing number of delegates from different parts of the world being sent to a third country (almost always Latin American) for further training before going on to the host country and compete in the pageant proper.
In 1999, Botswana sent Mpule Kwelagobe as its first ever delegate to the pageant and she won.
In 2007, Riyo Mori of Japan was crowned in Mexico City, Mexico in another controversial competition. All ten finalists were brunettes. When Miss Mexico failed to make the final cut, the crowd loudly booed Miss USA who did pass despite falling over in the evening gown competition.
In an interesting and quite original break from tradition, Miss Universe 1998, Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad and Tobago, did her final walk in 1999 to her very own recording, a cover of Sade's Kiss of Life instead of to a pre-recorded message or being interviewed by the host.
Natalie Glebova of Canada, Miss Universe 2005 reigned for the longest period in Miss Universe history: one year and 53 days (almost 2 months) from the time she was crowned on May 31, 2005 in Bangkok, Thailand. Riyo Mori of Japan, Miss Universe 2007 reigned for almost the same length: one year and 45 days from the time she was crowned on May 28, 2007 in Mexico City, Mexico.
In April 2006, a reunion of former titleholders took place in New York City to celebrate the launch of the book "Universal Beauty" by Cara Birnbaum. The reunion included Sylvia Hitchcock (1967, USA); Margaret Gardiner (1978, South Africa); Yvonne Ryding (1984, Sweden); Deborah Carthy Deu (1985, Puerto Rico); Bárbara Palacios (1986, Venezuela); Porntip Nakhirunkanok (1988, Thailand); Mona Grudt (1990, Norway); Lupita Jones (1991, Mexico); Michelle McLean (1992, Namibia); Brook Mahealani Lee (1997, USA); Wendy Fitzwilliam (1998, Trinidad & Tobago); Denise Quiñones (2001, Puerto Rico); Justine Pasek (2002, Panama); Amelia Vega (2003, Dominican Republic) and Natalie Glebova (2005, Canada).
The largest interval between a nation winning Miss Universe is Japan; Akiko Kojima won the title in 1959 and, 48 years later, Riyo Mori became the second recipient from Japan.
In 2009, Venezuela became the first country ever to win consecutive titles, when Dayana Mendoza, Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe 2008 crowned her compatriot, Stefanía Fernández as Miss Universe 2009. This was yet another controversial competition in that Stefanía Fernández did not score in the Top 3 in any of the preliminaries or semi-finals events. Many sources have stated that she was favored and picked by the owner of the Miss Universe (Donald Trump) at the time of her reign. However, it should be noticed that the scores only determine which delegates are making the cut, and the competition starts all over from zero (Many delegates in the past won some or all semifinal competitions and didn't win the crown. Diana Nogueira, Miss Spain 1999, who won swimsuit and evening gown competitions and was 2nd runner-up; Milka Chulina, Miss Venezuela 1993, who had the higher average of the three competitions and also was 2nd runner-up, Denny Mendez, Miss Italy 1997, who also had the highest average and only made top 6, etc.) and is the final question and the close-up final look which makes the jury to select the winner.
USA won in 1954 and 1956, then in 1995 and 1997 and Venezuela won in 1979 and 1981. Curiously, between the Venezuelan triumphs of 1979 and 1981, the winner was from the USA, and between the two USA wins in 1995 and 1997, the winner was from Venezuela.
The very first Miss Universe Armi Kuusela from Finland lives again in California, San Diego, with her ambassador husband, Albert Williams, after living around the world which all started in Miss Universe competition in California 1952.
Further information: Miss Universe special awards
The Philippines has won the Miss Photogenic award seven times (including a back-to-back and a three-peat), followed by the UK and Puerto Rico, both with five. Puerto Rico won its five awards during a six-year period (1999–2004, did not win in 2000).
Colombia has won the Best National Costume Award six times.
Guam has won the Miss Congeniality award four times.
The only Miss Universe to win three other awards on pageant night was Denise Quiñones (Puerto Rico), who in 2001 also won Miss Photogenic, Bluepoint Swimsuit Award, and Clairol Best Style Award.
Four Miss Universe winners were awarded Miss Photogenic: Margareta Arvidsson (Sweden, 1966), Margarita Moran (Philippines, 1973), Janelle Commissiong (Trinidad and Tobago, 1977) and Denise Quiñones (Puerto Rico, 2001)
Three titleholders have also won Best National Costume: Porntip Nakhirunkanok (Thailand, 1988), Wendy Fitzwilliams (Trinidad and Tobago, 1998) and, Amelia Vega (Dominican Republic, 2003).
The Miss Universe Creed
From 1960 to 1990, the Miss Universe Creed was read at each pageant:
"We, the young women of the universe, believe people everywhere are seeking peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. We pledge to spread this message in every way we can, wherever we go."
International Pageant of Pulchritude