Venezuelan wins sixth Miss Universe crown

Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:30am EDT
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By Neil Hartnell

NASSAU (Reuters) - Venezuelan Stefania Fernandez, an 18-year-old brunette, won the Miss Universe 2009 title on Sunday, giving her South American country its second consecutive win and its sixth title in the beauty pageant.

The svelte Venezuelan model defeated favorites from Australia and Dominican Republic to became the 58th winner of the crown in a show broadcast live around the world from the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas.

The first runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee de la Cruz, while Miss Kosovo, Gona Dragusha, was second runner-up.

Fernandez received the crown from fellow Venezuelan Dayana Mendoza, who won the 2008 Miss Universe contest held in Vietnam's resort city of Nha Trang.

Overcome with excitement as the two Venezuelan beauties embraced, Mendoza initially fumbled and dropped the jewel-studded crown before placing it on Fernandez' head.

It was the first time that a contestant from the same country won the title for a second year running.

Oil producer Venezuela is famous for its beauty queens and has accumulated more international beauty pageant titles than any other country. The South American nation had produced five previous Miss Universe winners in 1979, 1981, 1986, 1996 and 2008 and has also won the Miss World contest five times.

Only the United States has won more Miss Universe titles with 7.   Continued...

<p>Miss Venezuela, Stefania Fernandez waves onstage after winning the Miss Universe 2009 annual pageant held at Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas August 23, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>