WINNER – Miss Universe 2002 (dethroned) – Oxana Fedorova

WINNER -Oxana Fedorova, Russia

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE 1952-2010

(Our judges are: Greg Borowski, Willian Prendiz de Jurado, Edwin Toledo (Times of Beauty), Ricardo Guiraldes (Chilean Charm), Julio Rodriguez (Belleza Venezolana), Alberto Dubal (Miss Memorabilia), Jimmy Harris (Beauty School), Pepe Medel, Jean-Marie Vandecasteele, Andre Sleigh, Rose Foulger, Luis Trujillo. From GB, Ed Dominguez, Henrique Fontes, and Chris Kuntz)

“Can she possibly be more beautiful?”. That’s how CNN started reporting on the election of Oxana Fedorova, from Russia, as Miss Universe 2002. It was Russia’s first victory, and, unfortunately, the shortest reign for a Miss Universe.

1st Miss China Universe: 3rd place

Miss Universe 2002, the pageant’s 51st edition, happened in San Juan, Puerto Rico. One year earlier, the island had seen its own Denise Quiñones be crowned at home, then she would crown her successor before of her own people.

Seventy-five candidates participated in Miss Universe that year, including Albania and China, which took part in the event for the first time. The show was hosted by Phil Simms and Daisy Fuentes, with the help of former Miss Universe Brook Lee.

After a Miss USA pageant with 4 black finalists, including the winner, the District of Columbia’s Shauntay Hinton, pageant followers believed black stunners would dominate the Miss Universe 2002 scenario as well. Two of the main front-runners were Miss Colombia, Vanessa Mendoza, the first black Colombian in the pageant history, and Miss Dominican Republic, Ruth Ocumarez.

Colombia: favorite and best NC

Miss Curaçao, Ayanette Statia, Miss Sweden, Malou Hansson (her mother was from Ghana), and Miss USA, were also among the black favorites.

The representative of Panama, Justine Pasek, was another hot favorite, favored by GlobalBeauties.com to win the crown. Vanessa Carreira had competed in Miss Portugal and lost, but her luck changed when she was crowned Miss South Africa later on. In Puerto Rico, she was also a favorite. Then there was the elegant and congenial first Miss China Universe, Zhuo Ling. GB was the only website to spot Miss Cyprus, Demetra Eleftheriou, as the possible first ever semi-finalist from her country (and it was right!). Just like Miss South Africa, Natascha Börger, Miss Germany, had also competed in another country (Venezuela) and lost.

South Africa

In a very competitive year, the list of favorites went on, with France, Netherlands, India, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Japan, Nicaragua, Portugal, Porto Rico (hometown girl), Slovenia, Turkey…

Miss Venezuela, Cynthia Lander, had a body to die for, but facially, she wasn’t among the best, not even by far. Some believed she could make it, others thought the Venezuelan 19-year-long streak would end in 2002.

And how about Miss Russia, Oxana Fedorova? Of course she was often present in most ‘top 10′ lists, but very few saw her as a possible winner until the final night. It would change as soon as she was called among the ‘top 10′…

top 10

And the top 10 semi-finalists were:

Albania, Russia, South Africa, India, Germany, Cyprus, Canada, Panama, China, and Venezuela.

Overall, it was a good top 10, with a couple of surprises: Albania (pleasant one), and Venezuela (good body + preparation + tradition).

The negative surprise was the fact that the judges completely ignored the stunning black candidates competing that year, including mega favorites Colombia and Dominican Republic. The exclusion of the Dominican delegate was so shocking, that pageant fans created the Ruth Ocumarez (her name) Award for favorites who missed the cut from 2003 on…

Cyprus

Cyprus made the cut for the first time ever, as predicted by GB, and so did China and Albania, on their first participation. Germany had returned to the semi-finals after 13 years, and Portugal missed the opportunity to have its first ever semi-finalist, after all, Vanessa Carreira had competed and lost there. She made it for South Africa.

From that point on, it looked like it was a real piece of cake for Miss Russia! The Russian stunner suddenly became virtually unbeatable, topping both the swimsuit and evening gown competitions with a large margin to the other contenders. She scored an amazing 9.88 in swimsuit.

Miss Universe 2002 was one of the best produced editions of the pageant in history, showing a big improvement from a busy and confusing 2001 production. From an energetic and captivating opening number and parade of nations, to the stage, lighting, and music, everything was refreshing, elegant, very well elaborated.

Miss Puerto Rico, voted by fans in the internet, took the Miss Photogenic Award. Miss US Virgin Islands was Miss Congeniality, and Miss Colombia, the big favorite, won the Best National Costume Award.

Panama: Miss U02 after 3 months

Russia advanced to the Top 5 with a comfortable lead (9.76), followed by Venezuela (9.06), and China (9.01). Four countries had a fierce battle for the remaining two spots, with Panama (8.85) and South Africa (8.84) advancing, and Germany (8.825) and Cyprus (8.82) staying behind. Miss Cyprus, Demetra Eleftheriou, would be named the Sexist Woman Alive later that year by Global Beauties.

At that point, it possibly did not matter what Miss Russia’s answer would be for the final question. Her beauty was such, and her performance had been so extraordinary all night long, that only a disgrace could take the crown away from her. The fight was for 2nd place, and as destiny would tell, a 2nd position that later would be worth gold…

Miss Venezuela was announced as 4th runner-up, followed by Miss South Africa, the third runner-up; Miss China was the 2nd runner-up, and Misses Russia and Panama were left, hand in had, one of which seconds away from walking away with the new Mikimoto Miss Universe official crown.

Winning moment: unanimous!

The 1st runner-up was Miss Panama, and Oxana Fedorova, the beauty prodigy from Russia, was Miss Universe 2002!

Maybe there wasn’t a single soul on the planed who disagreed with the judges’ choice that night, one of those rare moments in pageantry: unanimity!

The daughter of a father who was a nuclear physicist, who she last saw when she was 3, and a mother who worked as a nurse, this Pskov native was not only beautiful, but also very bright. After graduating from the police academy with  honours, Fedorova worked as an inspector in the Pskov militia for six months. Following her time with the force, she moved to St. Petersburg to study at the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) University, where she worked as an investigator at the Pulkovo Transport Police, while studying.

Miss DR inspired the Ruth Ocumarez Award

Oxana on the cover of a magazine

It’s interesting to note that Oxana was supposed to represent Russia in Miss Universe 2001, and did not do so because of her studies.

After three months as Miss Universe, Oxana lost her title. Fedorova stated that she voluntarily gave up her crown for personal reasons, mainly because she wanted to finish her law degree. Officially, she was dethroned for failing to perform the numerous duties expected of a Miss Universe titleholder. At the time she said in an interview that she had declined to perform her duties because she was insulted on The Howard Stern Show. She blamed the pageant organizers for not warning her of the frequently profane Stern commentary, of which she, as a foreigner, had no prior knowledge.

Justine Pasek of Panama succeeded her (READ HERE).

Oxana’s career as a model and television personality in Russia, has been very successful ever since she returned home. She is currently working on her first solo album, which shall be released until the end of the year.

For many, in terms of beauty Oxana is “on a league of her own”, just like Ashwarya Rai, the Indian twice elected the Most Beautiful Miss World ever.

MISS UNIVERSE 2002 – OXANA FEDOROVA (dethroned)
WINNER
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM EUROPE (1952-2010)

WINNER
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 2000′s 

Miss Universe 2002 receives the new Miss Universe crown

Top 5: Panama (2nd), China (3rd), South Africa (4th), Venezuela (5th), Russia (1st)

Oxana: queen for 3 months

We want to thank our judges, contributors (especially Alberto Dubal and Greg Borowski), and visitors, some of which have been following this election for over 6 months. It’s been a pleasure having you on board during this magical journey through 59 years of history of Miss Universe!! Congratulations to Oxana and to all other 59 Miss Universe winners. In reality, in this game all were, are, and will always be winners.

Happy Miss Universe’s 60th edition, everyone!!

2nd place – Miss Universe 2004 – Jennifer Hawkins

2nd place – Jennifer Hawkins, Australia


(Our judges are: Greg Borowski, Willian Prendiz de Jurado, Edwin Toledo (Times of Beauty), Ricardo Guiraldes (Chilean Charm), Julio Rodriguez (Belleza Venezolana), Alberto Dubal (Miss Memorabilia), Jimmy Harris (Beauty School), Pepe Medel, Jean-Marie Vandecasteele, Andre Sleigh, Rose Foulger, Luis Trujillo. From GB, Ed Dominguez, Henrique Fontes, and Chris Kuntz)

Miss Universe 2004 happened at Quito’s Convention Center, on June 1. Eighty candidates competed in the beautiful country of Ecuador, with Georgia, Ethiopia and Vietnam debuting. Taiwan would compete for the last time in Miss Universe, at least until 2011. The final event was hosted by Billy Bush and the always great Daisy Fuentes. The pageant was watched by some 600 million people in nearly 70 countries.

Jamaica

The candidates started arriving in Ecuador on May 12. Ecuador wanted to show to  the rest of the world its tourist potentialities, and delivered it well. Although it was a time of political instability in the country, the local organizers did a very good job and Ecuador was an excellent host country. It was only the second time a South American nation hosted the Miss Universe pageant (the first had been Peru, back in 1982).

The people of Quito, and Ecuador in general, were happy with Miss Universe being held “at home”. Those who could not attend the final event, cheered the 80 international beauties during Quito’s open car parade.

The girls visited Guayaquil, Cuenca, the Andean region, and a group of girls traveled with Amelia Vega, Miss Universe 2003, to the Galapagos Islands.

Paraguay: 4th place

Since the beginning, four candidates stood out as the major favorites for the crown: Miss Ecuador, María Susana Rivadeneira; Miss USA, Shandi Finnessey; Miss Venezuela, Ana Karina Áñez; and, Miss Ukraine, Okelsandra Nikolayenko. Miss USA was seen as ‘the one to beat’. Tall, blonde, congenial, Shandi had all the attributes to become America’s 8th Miss Universe.

Other favorites were Misses Norway, Kathrine Sørland, who had come from a 4th place in Miss World an year earlier, and Aruba, Zizi Lee, vice-Miss World 2001. Laëtitia Bleger, Miss France, was another possibility.

As the pageant progressed, other delegates started getting more and more press attention and the status of favorite: Australia, Greece, Canada (one of the big favorites among locals), Turkey, Japan, Egypt, Colombia, Serbia & Montenegro and Spain.

Some curiosities about the contestants:

The fav from Ukraine

* Miss Bolivia, Gabriela Oviedo, was heavily criticized after saying that she was “a tall, white woman, and not a short indigenous peasant”;

* Miss Venezuela, Ana Karina Añez, impressed everyone for her preparation. The fact that she used the sentence, “I am my only competition here”, several times, was also remarked by the Ecuadorian press;

* Miss Ukraine, Oleksandra Nikolayenko, had been a top 10 semi-finalist in Miss World 2001. Amazingly beautiful, she was a favorite to become Miss Universe. She always made an effort to speak English with journalists;

* Miss Australia, Jennifer Hawkins, traveled abroad for the first time in her life on that occasion. Her vivacity, natural beauty and spontaneity, stole the scene whenever she arrived at an official event. After the preliminaries, Global Beauties had her as one of the 5 favorites for the crown;

* Another favorite, Miss Norway, Kathrine Sørland, said that in her opinion, Miss Universe was just a great as Miss World. “I have the honor to have participated in the two biggest beauty pageants in the world, both are amazing”. She was pleasant, smart, always full of energy;

Girls in swimsuits!

* Miss Cayman Islands, Stacey-Ann Kelly, never missed on an opportunity to promote her island! She always carried with her souvenirs, booklets, and CDs with photos and info on the beautiful Cayman Islands.

After the Presentation Show, a few candidates stood out and were often mentioned as favorites, among which were Australia, Norway, Paraguay, Greece, Switzerland, Jamaica, Philippines (one of the most elegant in the batch). Misses USA, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Ecuador, remained among the top-contenders.

Days before the final event, there were rumors that Miss Greece, Valia Kakouti, was going to be the winner because of the Olympic Games being held in Athens that year. The contestants themselves hated that idea: they considered the Greek stunner to be too stuck up and arrogant.

top 10

The candidates who made the first cut and advanced to the top 15, were: Puerto Rico, Norway, Trinidad & Tobago, Ecuador, India, Australia, Angola, Jamaica, Colombia, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Chile, USA, Paraguay, and Mexico.

There were many unexpected surprises, like Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Angola, Costa Rica, Chile, and Mexico. Favorites from Aruba, France, Greece, and mostly, Ukraine, and Venezuela, were eliminated very early in the competition. It was the first time in 22 years that Venezuela missed the cut!

Costa Rica placed for the first time since 1954, which was celebrated like a victory in her country. For Ecuador, it was also a big fiesta: Miss Universe 2004′s host country had had a single Miss Universe semi-finalist in the past, back in 1981.

Battle of blondes: USA and Australia

After the evening gown round, another cut and more surprises: Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Paraguay, Ecuador, Australia, India, and Colombia. At that point, all Europeans had been diced from the competition, including the favorite from Norway.

Swimsuits were next, and only 5 beauties were to remain in the game: Paraguay, USA, Puerto Rico (a big shock!), Australia, and Trinidad & Tobago. The beautiful candidates from Jamaica and Ecuador stood behind, and no longer competed for the title.

Miss Trinidad & Tobago finished in 5th place, Miss Paraguay was 4th, Miss Puerto Rico was 3rd, Miss USA was 2nd, and Australia conquered its second Miss Universe title with Jennifer Hawkins, the thunder from Down Under!

Jen, the thunder from Down Under!

Hawkins broke many patterns upon being crowned: she was natural, unrehearsed, REAL. It looked like that could be the beginning of a new era for Miss Universe (which, unfortunately, was not necessarily true). The Australian stunner was one of the best titleholders in history, having traveled to countries like  Korea, Bahamas, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Singapore, Indonesia, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, India, Ecuador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Thailand, where she crowned her successor. Jen truly enchanted the world!

Up to date, she has graced the covers of dozens of magazines around the globe, and is a talented and popular television presenter and celebrity in her native Australia.

(Special thanks to Alberto Dubal, who covered Miss Universe 2004 in Quito for GB)

MISS UNIVERSE 2004 – JENNIFER HAWKINS
WINNER
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM OCEANIA (1952-2010)

2nd place
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 2000′s 

Miss Universe 2004, Jennifer Hawkins

Trinidad & Tobago (5th), Australia (1st), Puerto Rico (3rd), USA (2nd), Paraguay (4th)

Miss U 2004

3rd place – Miss Universe 2008 – Dayana Mendoza

3rd place – Dayana Mendoza, Venezuela

(Our judges are: Greg Borowski, Willian Prendiz de Jurado, Edwin Toledo (Times of Beauty), Ricardo Guiraldes (Chilean Charm), Julio Rodriguez (Belleza Venezolana), Alberto Dubal (Miss Memorabilia), Jimmy Harris (Beauty School), Pepe Medel, Jean-Marie Vandecasteele, Andre Sleigh, Rose Foulger, Luis Trujillo. From GB, Ed Dominguez, Henrique Fontes, and Chris Kuntz)

Not long ago, who could have imagined that Vietnam would host the Miss Universe pageant, an event produced by Americans? Well, it did happen, in 2008, and Vietnam put together a remarkable production. 80 candidates competed, and it was hosted by the king of controversy and trash tv, Jerry Springer, along with the eternal Spice Girl, Melanie Brown. Among the music performers, the woman who would soon after that become the world’s hottest pop singer: the unique Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga: destined to success

Kosovo, a partially recognized republic still claimed by Serbia as part of its own territory, debuted in 2008 with beautiful Zana Krasniqi, who would be a top 10 semi-finalist, and finish the competition in 6th place.

The big favorite for the crown in 2008 was Miss Venezuela, Dayana Mendoza. Pageant analysts believed her only real threats were Miss Mexico, Elisa Nájera, and Miss Colombia, Taliana Vargas. Other favorites were Misses Australia, Kosovo, Panama, Spain, India, Norway, Puerto Rico and USA.

Miss Universe 2008 lasted for almost 30 days, being one of the longest in history. The candidates visited Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hoi An, Ha Noi, and finally, Nha Trang, where the big final event took place.

Kosovo: debuting in 2008

For the first time (and only until now), Miss Universe held a separate competition to choose the most beautiful figure among the contestants, and this special award went to Miss Mexico, Elisa Nájera. Another unique contest was the Miss Ao Dai (Vietnam’s national costume). Venezuela won that.

Miss Russia, Ksenia Sukhinova, declined competing in the pageant due to her studies, and chose to go to Miss World only (she was supposed to compete on both). The rest is history: Ksenia would be crowned Miss World 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa, later that year. Her 2nd runner-up in Russia, Vera Krasova, replaced her, and was the 3rd runner-up in Vietnam.

Another original national titleholder who could not compete in Miss Universe was Miss Spain (who also competed in Miss World 2008 and was a semi-finalist). The 1st runner-up, Claudia Moro, represented Spain in Miss U08, and was a favorite and semi-finalist.

Local pride: Vietnam in the top 15

That year the Mikimoto crown was replaced by a new piece made by Vietnamese Designers CAO FIne Jewelry. It was a one-year edition crown, and part of the local sponsorship agreement.

The show started at 8 AM, local time, to be telecast live on prime time in the USA and Latin America, Miss Universe’s main markets.

Many jaws dropped when a ‘top 15′ filled with ‘surprises’ was announced: Venezuela, Kosovo, Mexico, Vietnam, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Dominican Republic, Italy, Colombia, Russia, Hungary, Czech Republic, USA, and Spain.

Swimsuits!

Once again, Donal Trump and the Miss Universe Organization choices (6 out of 15) were highly questioned by most fans and pageant observers. South Africa (who looked her best and performed better in Miss World), Japan, Dominican Republic (who started being noticed at the final night), Italy, Czech Republic, Vietnam (there were rumors that her place among the 15 was secured on the contract signed by the MUO and the local organizers), and mostly Hungary (one of the biggest upsets in pageant history), took the spots of very competitive beauties, like India, Panama, Puerto Rico, Norway (Miss World 2010′s finalist), Montenegro (Miss Tourism Queen 2008′s 3rd runner-up), and others.

But the show had to go on, when to the sound of emerging pop star Lady Gaga, the 15 paraded in swimsuits. The “surprising” ones, except for Miss Dominican Republic, got not so surprising historic low marks from the judges, like Vietnam (7,050), Japan (7,100), South Africa (7,133), and Hungary (7,229). Colombia topped the group, followed by Venezuela in 2nd, and USA in 3rd place.

Top 10

The 10 candidates who would go on to the next round of competition were Misses Kosovo, Australia, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, USA, Dominican Republic, Russia, Italy, and Venezuela.

After some unforgettable gown performances, Miss Colombia was 1st once again, followed by Venezuela in 2nd, and Mexico in 3rd. Surprising Dominican Republic and Russia rounded out the ‘top 5′, leaving behind favorites from Kosovo, Spain, and Australia. Just like the American representative in Miss Universe 2007, Miss USA, Crystle Stewart, fell during the evening gown competition. However, unlike her predecessor, Crystle did not make it to the ‘top 5′.

Ooops... USA falls (again!)

At that point, it was believed that the judges were favoring Miss Colombia over the heavy favorite Miss Venezuela. However, Dayana Mendoza’s stunning looks and spontaneity when answering the final question, gave her the extra edge and necessary votes to become her country’s 5th Miss Universe. Miss Colombia was 2nd, Miss Dominican Republic, who many believe went way too far, was 3rd, Miss Russia was 4th, and Miss Mexico, who was expected to be in the ‘top 3′, was 5th.

Dayana received the crown from Miss Universe 2007, Japan’s Riyo Mori, who made a fashion statement by doing her farewell walk wearing a tux. It was another first in Miss Universe’s history!

It had been 12 years since Venezuela’s last victory (Alicia Machado in 1996), an eternity for a country known for the beauty of its women and preparation to compete internationally

Winning moment

with great success. When some thought Osmel Souza, the famous Venezuelan national director and pageant coach, had lost his touch, Venezuela was back in the game stronger than ever: one year later, in the Bahamas, it would make history for winning the first back-to-back title for a country in Miss Universe history.

Dayana, considered the third most beautiful Miss Universe ever, and the most beautiful from the Americas, was a very charismatic queen, having done a remarkable job as Miss Universe.

MISS UNIVERSE 2008 – DAYANA MENDOZA
WINNER
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM SOUTH AMERICA

3rd PLACE
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE 2000′S

Still competing: 2002-Oxana, 2004 

Miss Universe 2008

Top 5: Colombia (2nd), Venezuela (1st), Dominican Republic (3rd), Mexico (4th), Russia (5th)

Dayana Mendoza

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