Miss USA Wins Miss Universe

Olivia Culpo's win is first for US in 15 years
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2012 5:29 AM CST
Miss USA Wins Miss Universe
Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, waves to the crowd after being crowned as Miss Universe during the Miss Universe competition, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

For the first time since 1997, Miss USA has won the Miss Universe pageant. Rhode Island's Olivia Culpo, 20, ended last night's competition in Las Vegas ahead of 88 other contestants. "It's such an honor to be representing the USA in an international beauty contest in spite of all the tragedy that's happened in this country lately," she said afterward. "I really hope that this this will raise everybody's spirits a little." Who is Culpo? The Boston University sophomore calls herself a "cellist nerd": She's played at Carnegie Hall and jammed with Yo-Yo Ma.

Culpo won Miss Rhode Island wearing a rented $20 dress with a hole in it. Her surprise entrance in that pageant prompted her family to look at her "like she had three heads," her father says. Her younger brother also offered some reflections: Culpo was "really chubby and sort of weird when she was younger." In second place was Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon; third was Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero. Singer Cee Lo Green and Iron Chef's Masaharu Morimoto were among the judges, the AP reports. It notes that Culpo won over the judges even after tripping slightly during the evening gown competition; telecasters pointed out the misstep but also noted her poised recovery. (More Olivia Culpo stories.)

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