Last night in Vietnam, Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza was crowned 2008's Miss Universe. The 22-year-old green-eyed beauty beat contestants from 80 countries around the world to win the coveted crown (See more of Dayana in Spike's Miss Universe 2008 photo gallery). She loves photography, learning languages and was once kidnapped in her homeland. She says “the experience taught her to remain poised under pressure” - a good quality to possess in the cutthroat world of beauty pageants. However the highlight of the night belonged to Miss USA who fell during the evening gown section. This marks the second year in a row that Miss USA has landed on her backside during the competition.
Miss Venezuela joins a host of hotties who have worn the crown over the year. In honor of the event we bring you Spike’s Top 10 Hottest Miss Universe Winners.
#10 Armi Kuusela (1952)
Originally from Finland, Armia Kussela was the first-ever Miss Universe. She set the standard of what was to follow. The original contest was held in Long Beach, California and consisted of 29 contestants from around the world and was originally created to sell swimwear. Armi won a box of chocolates, a gold bangle and an airline ticket. She left her post early so that she could to marry a Filipino businessman she met whilst traveling as Miss Universe.
#9 Lara Dutta (2000)
A native of India, Lara Dutta scored the highest finalist interview score in the history of the Miss Universe contest. A majority of the judges gave her the maximum score of 9.99 after hearing her passionate defense of the Miss Universe contest. Lara is now a famous Bollywood star.
#8 Luz Marina Zuluaga (1958)
Luz is the only Colombian in history to hold the Miss Universe title. She set the bar high for her fellow Colombians as she was also the first Colombian to ever compete in the contest. After her win she was not able to immediately return home as the Miss Universe organization feared for her safety due to political unrest. In later life she was elected to her local city council.
#7 Marisol Malaret Contreras (1970)
Marisol was the first woman from Puerto Rico to win the title. She obviously inspired her country as Puerto Rico has had the 2nd highest amount of Miss Universe winners in the history of the competition (tied with Venezuela). Not bad for a small country. She is now a successful media figure in Puerto Rico.
#6 Mona Grudt (1990)
This green eyed beauty dubbed herself “the beauty Queen from Hell” as a publicity stunt as she was born in the Norwegian city Hell. The stunt worked and she ended up annihilating her competitors winning all three segments in the semi-finals.
#5 Shawn Weatherly (1980)
The United States has had the most Miss Universe winners in the history of the pageant (though Venezuela is catching up). Shawn is the 5th American to win the title and it would take another 15 years after her win for another American to win back the crown (1995’s Chelsi Smith).
#4 Justine Pasek (2002)
Ukraine beauty Jusinte Pasek was originally 2002’s first runner up. She gained the crown after the Miss Universe organization stripped it from original winner Oxana Fedorova for not fulfilling the duties stipulated in her contract. Justine is the first Miss Universe to receive the crown in this manner.
#3 Alicia Machado (1996)
Like yesterday’s winner Alicia Machado heralds from Venezuela. Like Puerto Rica, Venezuela has had the 2nd most Miss Universe winners in the history of the competition. They are two more wins away from tying with the United States. Alicia was nearly stripped of her crown after gaining a little too much weight.
#2 Zuleyka Rivera (2006)
The stunningly breathtaking Puerto Rican beauty proves that there must be something in Puerto Rica’s water. She was so overwhelmed by her win in 2006 that she fainted at the press conference.
#1 Jennifer Hawkins (2004)
The thunder from down under is described by Miss Universe owner Donald Trump as “the most beautiful Miss Universe I have seen in many, many years.” She is probably best remember for an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction during her reign at a fashion runway show where she tripped on her dress causing it to fall off and reveal to the world her tiny red thong.
If that's not enough Miss Universe action for you, then relive the excitment, drama and beauty of last night's pagent with this special Miss Universe 2008 photo gallery.