by Eugene D’Souza, Mumbai
Daijiworld Media Network
Bahamas, Aug 24: In a glittering pageant held at the Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas in West Indies on 23 August 2009 (early morning of Monday 24 August in India) 18 year old Latina beauty Stefania Fernandez from Venezuela won the title of Miss Universe 2009. She makes history, as this is Venezuela's second consecutive win in the international beauty pageant.
Dressed in a flowing red gown, Fernandez embraced runner up Miss Dominican Republic as the announcement was made, and received the glittering crown costing 120,000 dollars from last year's winner, Dayana Mendoza also from Venezuela. Stefania Fernandez defeated 83 contestants for the title, including first runner up Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee de la Cruz. Kosovo’s Gona Dragusha was named second runner up, Australia’s Rachael Finch third and the contestant from Puerto Rico Mayra Matos was fourth runner up. Beauties from 83 countries and territories participated in the 58th Miss Universe beauty pageant.
The girls were judged in three categories -swimsuit, evening gown and interview as they vied for the coveted title. The Miss Universe 2009 pageant was hosted by Access Hollywood co-anchor Billy Bush and model, actress and former Miss Rhode Island USA Claudia Jordan. It was live from Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. In recent years, the contest has been watched in over 180 countries. The 15 finalists were selected from among the 83 who appeared in cocktail dresses and then reappeared in bathing suits.
Miss China, Wang Jingyao, was named Miss Congeniality and Miss Thailand, Chutima Durongdej, won Miss Photogenic.
In a disappointing performance, Miss India 2009, Ekta Chowdhry has failed to make it to the top 15 for the Miss Universe 2009 contest.
Miss Universe is an annual international beauty contest run by the Miss Universe Organization. The contest was founded in 1952 by California clothing company named Pacific Mills. The pageant became part of Kayser-Roth and then Gulf and Western Industries, before being acquired by Donald Trump in 1996. Along with its rival contests , Miss World and Miss Earth, this pageant is one of the most publicized beauty contests in the world.