Miss Colombia Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe in a live show in Miami Sunday night. Miss USA Nia Sanchez from Las Vegas was named a runner-up, along with Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha.
Vega, the 21-year-old granddaughter of celebrated Colombian singer Gastón Vega, is a student of business from the northern Colombia city of Barranquilla, and says this will be her final competition as she intends to resume her education, reported the Associated Press.
“It will be a dream come true to represent the woman of today,” she said this week before receiving news of her win. “A woman that not only cares about being beautiful and being glamorous, but also cares about being a professional, intelligent, hard-working person.”
It was an overall winning night for the Colombian beauty, who wowed in the swimsuit competition and was dazzling in a silver crystal dress in the evening gown competition, during which Nick Jonas belted out his hit "Jealous."
Despite nervousness, Vega kept it together during the question and answer segment. Asked by judge Rob Dyrdek what women can learn form men, Vega said men who champion equality are good ones to follow.
She inherits the throne from Gabriela Isler, the reigning Miss Universe from Venezuela, though this year’s crown was all her own. The new $300,000 headpiece is modeled after the Manhattan skyline, as this is where Vega will spend the year of her reign.
And though she won the crown, Vega wasn’t the only winner on Sunday night. Miss Nigeria took home the Miss Congeniality prize, Miss Puerto Rico won the Miss Photogenic award and thanks to fan votes, Miss Indonesia won the National Costume Award for her ornate national garb that weighed a whopping 44 lbs.
Despite the controversy that arose between Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon earlier in the week, everyone was all smiles at the big event.
A total of 88 countries participated in the contest, of which 15 contestants were narrowed down after a grueling selection process. The event allowed participants to spend two weeks sharing experiences like golfing and learning Zumba together.