14th place – Denise Quiñones, Puerto Rico
* eliminated scores (highest and lowest scores) were used to break the tie with 13th place, Cecilia Bolocco.
(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 2001 was held at the Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez, in Baymon, Puerto Rico. 77 countries competed in a show hosted by supermodels Elle MacPherson and Naomi Campbell (both were heavily criticized for their performances as presenters), with the help of Todd Newton and former Miss Universe Brook Lee. Ricky Martin was the main musical attraction, opening the pageant singing his hit Loaded.
Miss Universe’s 50th edition was marked by some controversial stories surrounding some of the contestants. Miss France, Élodie Gossuin, for instance, was accused of being a man, while Miss Brazil, Juliana Borges, made worldwide headlines after telling the press she had gone through 17 plastic surgeries.
Slovenia debuted in Miss Universe with Minka Alagič, who wore one of the oddest evening gowns in the history of the pageant. Her dress was compared to a superhero’s costume!
After the first press conference with all contestants, the international press had a clear standout and major favorite for the crown: Greece’s Evelina Papantoniou. Classy, tall, with a phenomenal catwalk, it looked like Evelina was all MUO was looking for when trying to get the pageant revamped. Speaking of controversies, some nude pictures of the Greek goddess had emerged in the internet days previous to the pageant, which some thought, might have prevented her from winning.
Other favorites were Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego, who many thought could become a 3rd black Miss Universe in just four years, Miss Venezuela, Eva Ekvall, Miss Spain, Eva Sisó, Miss Nicaragua, Ligia Argüello, Miss Russia, Oksana Kalandyrets, Miss Israel, Ilanit Levy, and Miss Puerto Rico, Denise Quiñones. Miss Sweden, MMalin Olsson, had the most beautiful face in the competition, but perhaps was too short to be a serious contender (1.63 m-tall).
The hometown girl, Puerto Rico’s Quiñones, although unquestionably beautiful, had always received a “celebrity treatment” by local organizers, which caused a clear discomfort among the remaining delegates. Although always smiling and being polite to the other competitors, she never got very close to any of them. In addition, the local press tried really hard to push her as “the one to beat”, looking for and reporting on flaws they found on the other favorites, especially Venezuela and Greece.
Miss Korea, Kim Sa-rang, won the Best National Costume Award; voted by her fellow contestants as Miss Congeniality was Miss Bahamas, Nakera Simms; and Miss Photogenic, the most voted delegate in the internet, was Miss Puerto Rico, Denise Quiñones.
The top 10 were announced: Spain, Venezuela, Nigeria, Israel, Greece, India, Russia, USA, France, and Puerto Rico. When Puerto Rico was announced, the crowd went wild!
Among the ones who were missed, were Misses Nicaragua, who would go on to become a Miss World finalist, and South Africa, a semi-finalist in Miss World 2001.
Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego, was the first women from her country to be a Miss Universe semi-finalist. She chose to wear a one-piece swimsuit, which many believed, cost her a spot in the Top 5. A few months later, she would be crowned Miss World, in South Africa.
Some sashes proved to be powerful in those days, especially India and USA’s. None of the two were expected among the semi-finalists, but would go on to become finalists.
Miss France might have been helped by the whole controversy about her gender, but the fact is that she would later be crowned Miss Europe.
Miss Venezuela, Eva Ekvall, was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2010, and underwent eight months of treatment. She chronicled her experience in a book of photographs, Fuera de Foco (Out of Focus), released in 2011.
Miss Greece, Evelina Papantoniou, mastered the runway in flawless swimsuit and gown presentations, but it was Puerto Rico’s Denise Quiñones who got the highest average scores on both competitions. Among the judges, a famous Puerto Rican couple: Dayanara Torres, Miss Universe 1993, and pop star Marc Anthony.
The 5 finalists were Misses USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Greece, and India. USA and India had gone way too far in the competition.
After a quick chat with the 5 finalists and final questions & answers, the results were announced: India in 5th place, Venezuela in 4th, USA in 3rd. Greece and Puerto Rico were left. Miss Greece was announced as 1st runner-up, and Miss Puerto Rico, Denise Quiñones, won a 4th Miss Universe title for her island.
Denise was very elegant and looked ravishing in her evening gown that night. Add to that the massive support she got from her countryman, and her victory over the mega favorite Miss Greece, who perhaps had the best catwalk in Miss Universe history, could be explained.
Nevertheless, the feeling of frustration among the other delegates, national directors, and non-Puerto Rican pageant fans, was gigantic. Meanwhile, the people of Puerto Rico celebrated in the streets of San Juan just as if Puerto Rico had won the World Cup!
Quiñones was a popular Miss Universe, having done a great job, especially in the Latin market. She became a talented actress, guest-starring in an episode of the famous television series Smallville. She played Andrea, a masked avenger who fought crime in Metropolis and invited Clark Kent (Tom Welling) to join her in her adventures.
DENISE QUIÑONES, MISS UNIVERSE 2001
MOST BEAUTIFUL MISS UNIVERSE FROM THE CARIBBEAN
Still competing: 1953, 1961, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1987, 1989, 2000, 2002-dethroned Oxana, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010