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

(Newser) – 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.

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.
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)
Miss Universe hosts Andy Cohen, left, and Giuliana Rancic, center, react as Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, answers a question during the Miss Universe competition, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Las Vegas.
Miss Universe hosts Andy Cohen, left, and Giuliana Rancic, center, react as Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, answers a question during the Miss Universe competition, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Miss USA Olivia Culpo takes center stage as she is announced as one of the five finalists during the Miss Universe pageant, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Las Vegas. Culpo was crowned as Miss Universe.
Miss USA Olivia Culpo takes center stage as she is announced as one of the five finalists during the Miss Universe pageant, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Las Vegas. Culpo was crowned as Miss Universe.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Miss Venezuela's straight-cut, emerald-colored gown was perhaps the most distinct, its long sleeves virtually invisible but for the navy blue, garland-like trim encircling them.
Miss Venezuela's straight-cut, emerald-colored gown was perhaps the most distinct, its long sleeves virtually invisible but for the navy blue, garland-like trim encircling them.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Miss Australia's gown evoked a wedding dress _ pure white with sparkles at the waist and a corset-style bodice.
Miss Australia's gown evoked a wedding dress _ pure white with sparkles at the waist and a corset-style bodice.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, right, reacts as a hair stylist touches up her hair with hairspray while waiting during a commercial break with Miss Australia.
Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, right, reacts as a hair stylist touches up her hair with hairspray while waiting during a commercial break with Miss Australia.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, center, reacts with Miss Teen USA, Logan West, as she is announced as the new Miss Universe over first runner-up Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon, left.
Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, center, reacts with Miss Teen USA, Logan West, as she is announced as the new Miss Universe over first runner-up Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon, left.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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