July 24, 2006 07:14:10 GMT
Judges this afternoon announced Miss Puerto Rico, Zuleika Rivera, as the pageant winner.
The 18-year-old Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza of Puerto Rico comes out as the winner of the 55th Miss Universe contest, thus marks the fifth time the crown has gone to Puerto Rican. The 175cm tall was chosen and crowned Miss Universe at the event, held Sunday night July 23rd at the fabled Shrine Auditorium near downtown Los Angeles.
Shared a nervous emotional hug with first runner-up, Kurara Chibana of Japan, moments before the winner was announced, Mendoza immediately clasped her hands to her mouth in amazement as her name was called. Had the crown placed on her head, the newly crowned Miss Universe briefly fainted after a post-pageant news conference but quickly recovered after being given liquids.
The final ten finalists among others were Desiree Duran of Bolivia; Alice Panikian of Canada; Valerie Dominguez of Colombia; Priscila Perales of Mexico, Lourdes Arevalos of Paraguay; and Lauriane Gillieron of Switzerland. Elsewhere, the celebrity judging panel included actor James Lesure of "Las Vegas"; "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry; actress Bridgette Wilson Sampras, fashion photographer Patrick McMullan, and 2003 Miss Universe Amelia Vega.
More on the event, it is run by real estate mogul Donald Trump's organization while the crown costs $US250,000 ($A332,690).