Miss Venezuela is Miss Universe 2008

VIETNAM: Miss Venezuela, 22-year-old Dayana Mendoza, won the Miss Universe pageant held in Vietnam on July 14, beating runners-up from three other Latin American countries and Russia.

Mendoza, who had been the favourite of many pageant watchers and online bookmakers, clinched the diamond-studded gold crown after answering a question on the difference between men and women.

“Men think that the fastest way to go to a point is to go straight,” explained the trilingual beauty from Amazonas state. “Women know that the faster way to go to a point is to go to the curves.” Wearing a yellow evening gown, she burst into tears of joy when the presenter, US talk show host Jerry Springer, announced she had won, beating runners-up up from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Russia and Mexico. Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori handed over the crown worth $120,000 to Mendoza, who will continue Mori’s work of travelling around the world to promote education and HIV/AIDS research.

The first runner-up is Miss Colombia Taliana Vargas (20), the second runner – up is Miss Dominica Marianne Cruz (23). The Best National Costume went to Thailand’s Gavintra Photijak, who chose a martial arts theme presented with a frightening Muay Thai knee kick. On a more benign note, the Miss Congeniality award — based on a popularity poll among the contestants — went to Miss El Salvador Rebeca Moreno 22.

Mendoza’s prize package includes cash, a year-long contract promoting Miss Universe, world travel, a rent-free New York City luxury apartment and a gift bag stuffed with free designer shoes, dresses and beauty products.

In the world of beauty contests, Venezuela —where beauty contests are held in schools, villages and even prisons —is considered a “pageant superpower” with four previous Miss Universe and five Miss World winners.

Oops Miss USA stumbled again

BEIJING: For the second straight year Miss USA tripped on her evening gown and fell

down. Tension got under the skin of Crystle Stewart, 26, of Texas and she tripped on the train of her bejewelled evening gown as she made her entrance.  During the 2007 Miss Universe contest in Mexico City, Miss USA Rachel Smith also tumbled during the evening gown competition and became an unintended star on You Tube, where the video was shown over and over again.