It’s a crowning achievement for Paulina Vega…
The 22-year-old Colombian beauty queen representing her native land, has been crowned Miss Universe.
Vega, a relative pageant newcomer, beat out first runner-up Miss USA Nia Sanchez and contestants from more than 80 other countries at Sunday’s pageant in Miami.
Vega, a student of business administration from Barranquilla, Colombia, said she would wear the crown with “pride and excitement” as she heard the news that fans in Colombia had taken to the streets to celebrate.
Real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump, who owns the pageant, said many predicted Vega would take home the coveted crown a few weeks ago when contestants first arrived in Miami for the festivities.
“From the minute she walked in the building, people said, ‘She’s a star,'” Trump said.
Vega’s win keeps the title in the hands of another Latina — reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler is from Venezuela.
Pageants and performance run in Vega’s family. Her grandmother, Elvira Castillo, was Miss Atlántico 1953 (Colombia) and her grandfather is legendary tenor Gastón Vega.
But the contests leading up to Miss Universe were a first for Vega, who is one of eight children. She also said they would be her last, as she is eager to return to her business studies, saying: “It gives me independence. I want to have my own company.”
After Sanchez, the 24-year-old Miss USA from Las Vegas, Nevada, the second runner-up was Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha. Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell and Miss Netherlands Yasmin Verheijen were also among the top five, emerging from the field of 88 contestants.
As Miss Universe, Vega will receive an undisclosed salary, a luxury apartment in New York, a wardrobe and oodles of beauty products, and a one-year scholarship from the New York Film Academy.
“It will be a dream come true to represent the woman of today,” Vega said earlier in the week. “A woman that not only cares about being beautiful and being glamorous, but also cares about being a professional, intelligent, hard-working person.”