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Miss Venezuela wins Miss Universe 2008

Miss Venezuela, 22-year-old Dayana Mendoza, won the Miss Universe pageant held in Vietnam, beating runners-up from three other Latin American countries and Russia. Read on...

world Updated: Jul 14, 2008 13:22 IST

Miss Venezuela, 22-year-old Dayana Mendoza, won the Miss Universe pageant held in Vietnam on Monday, beating runners-up from three other Latin American countries and Russia.

Mendoza, who had been the favourite of many pageant watchers and online bookmakers, clinched the diamond-studded gold crown after answering a question on the difference between men and women.

"Men think that the fastest way to go to a point is to go straight," explained the trilingual beauty from Amazonas state. "Women know that the faster way to go to a point is to go to the curves."

Wearing a yellow evening gown, she burst into tears of joy when the presenter, US talkshow host Jerry Springer, announced she had won, beating runners-up up from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Russia and Mexico.

Her prize package includes cash, a year-long contract promoting Miss Universe, world travel, a rent-free New York City luxury apartment and a giftbag stuffed with free designer shoes, dresses and beauty products.

In the world of beauty contests, Venezuela -- where beauty contests are held in schools, villages and even prisons -- is considered a "pageant superpower" with four previous Miss Universe and five Miss World winners.