A 20-year-old beauty queen from Rhode Island was crowned the new Miss Universe on Wednesday, beating out 88 other women during a televised competition at the Planet Hollywood casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Olivia Culpo took the crown from Leila Lopes of Angola after strutting in a purple and blue bikini and a red velvet gown.
In the final stages of the competition, she answered a question about her regrets by saying she wished she hadn’t picked on her siblings.
Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon, came in second, while Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, placed third.
Contestants from 89 countries on six continents spent the past two weeks in Sin City, where they posed in hardhats at a hotel groundbreaking, took a painting lesson, and pranked hotel guests by hiding in their rooms.
The beauty queens took the stage in tight, pleated mini-dresses with glittering sequin bodices and sky high platform shoes, strutting to the hit “Live While We’re Young,” by English-Irish boy band One Direction.
Later in the two-hour show, they walked a stage decked with white Christmas trees and snow flurry effects, throwing off gauzy white wraps to show off tie-dye bikinis in purples, pinks and blues.
For the third elimination round, they strutted in evening gowns as band Train and Australian singer Timomatic performed. 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 USA’s red velvet number was full-skirted and wintery, except for the deep, plunging neckline. Miss Australia’s gown evoked a wedding dress — pure white with sparkles at the waist and a corset-style bodice.
Culpo, from Rhode Island, was trying to end a long losing spell for the U.S. in the competition. An American had not won the right to be called Miss Universe since Brook Lee won the title in 1997.
The contestants voted to give the Miss Congeniality crown to Miss Guatemala.
The pageant aired live on NBC and was streamed to more than 100 countries.