Colombia’s Paulina Vega crowned Miss Universe in Miami

Miss Colombia Paulina Vega has been crowned Miss Universe, beating out contestants from 87 other countries.

Miss USA Nia Sanchez and Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha were the runners-up during Sunday’s competition. Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell and Miss Netherlands Yasmin Verheijen were also among the top five.

Canada’s representative, Chanel Beckenlehner, wasn’t on the list of finalists, but last week scored some major buzz around the world for an outlandish hockey-themed costume.

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Images of Beckenlehner’s costume blanketed Twitter, generating a mix of praise and pans for the outfit, which she wore during a preliminary Miss Universe competition.

The costume the Caledon, Ont. native wore included a corseted bustier emblazoned with a black and white Maple Leaf. The back of her voluminous skirt featured blue lines and faceoff circles representing a hockey arena.

Vega said the contests leading to Miss Universe were the first she’d participated in and will be her last, as she’s eager to return to her studies in business administration.

The 22-year-old is the granddaughter of a legendary tenor, Gaston Vega.

She has said, “It will be a dream come true to represent the woman of today. A woman that not only cares about being beautiful and being glamorous, but also cares about being a professional, intelligent, hard-working person.”

The 24-year-old Sanchez has a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has travelled the country teaching others. She spoke previously about equipping women to defend themselves against crime.

“It’s just something that’s so prevalent in our society, and why not empower women to take control of a dangerous situation into their own hand,” she said.

Miss Colombia was crowned by the outgoing Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler of Venezuela. The broadcast included performances by singers Nick Jonas and Prince Royce.

Crowd favourite Miss Venezuela Migbelis Lynette Castellanos was cut after the top 10. The Miami suburb of Doral, which was host to the women during their stay, is also known as “Doralzuela” for its many Venezuelan residents.

Three of the last six Miss Universe titles have gone to Venezuela, where beauty pageants are big business.

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