My prediction wins the crown again! This is the first time since the year 2000, that I correctly predicted the winners of both Miss USA and Miss Universe. If I can correctly predict Miss Teen USA, it will be the first time that I correctly predicted all three for the same year. However, Miss Teen USA is often a different ballgame so I'm not expecting that to happen. Venezuela finally captures its fifth Miss Universe crown thanks to the stunning, vivacious Dayana Mendoza. 'Dynamic Dayana' topped my predictions this year simply because she outpersonalities everyone else. Not since Alicia Machado, (Venezuela's last Miss Universe who won in 1996) have I seen a Miss Venezuela bring this much laughter, excitement, and bubbliness to Miss Universe. Princess Dayana is dynamism and brought Venezuela its long awaited and much deserved Miss Universe crown after 12 years of no winners, several runner ups and two shocking and undeserved exclusions from the semifinals in 2004 and 2006. Venezuela was long overdue for a Miss Universe win and what better place for Venezuela to win it than in another country that starts with the letter 'V', Vietnam! Dayana has the glamour, the spirit, the undeniably sensational body and worked that gown in true Venezuelan style. She was universally favored and a lot of people fell in love with her after watching her closeup on the Miss Universe website. When asked what article of clothing she couldn't do without, she replied 'panties' and immediately caused a laugh out loud moment. From that moment, Dayana upped her edge that much further. Dayana, you had us at 'panties'!

Dayana Mendoza, Miss Venezuela takes the Ao Dai competitionElisa Najera, Miss Mexico Wins the Vinpearl Swimsuit Award. From Left to Right: Spain, Colombia, Mexico, India, USA Prior to the pageant, we had three special competitions which were: the Ao Dai (Vietnamese traditional outfits) competition, the National Costume competition and the Vinpearl swimsuit award. Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza won the Ao Dai competition with Vietnam, Thailand, Kazahkstan and India as finalists. Mexico's Elisa Najera won the Vinpearl swimsuit award with Colombia, India, Spain and USA as finalists and then Thailand won the National Costume competition with Albania, Colombia, Dominican Republic, India, Kosovo, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam as finalists. El Salvador won the Congeniality award.
National Costume Finalists from left to right: Mexico, Dominican Republic, India, South Africa, Vietnam, Venezuela, Peru, Kosovo, Colombia and Albania

The new Miss Universe crown

I'm sure you noticed the new crown. This year, Mikimoto's crown which debuted in 2002 has already been replaced by this new crown unveiled and created by CAO Fine Jewelry. I've heard varying opinions of this crown. Some say it looks very regal and eloquent whereas others think it belongs in the 80s and a lot of people don't seem to like the gold color because the Miss Universe crown is normally silver/white. In commemoration of the new crown, I thought we would take a trip down memory lane examining the Miss Universe crowns in history in a little segment, I like to call...
"Tom's Crown Affair"
Miss Universe 1952, Armi Kuusela of Finland is crowned by actress Piper LaurieMiss Universe 1953, Christiane Martel of FranceThe first Miss Universe crown in 1952 adorned the head of Finland's Armi Kuusela who was crowned by actress Piper Laurie. Thank God it was the only year that crown made an appearance because it was just too small and looked like a throwback to ancient British crowns. The next year, Christiane Martel of France wore a golden star-topped crown which also only had a one year appearance. From 1954 to 1960, we were given the laurel wreath star-topped silver crown as shown here modelled by Miriam Stevenson in 1954 and Linda Bement in 1960. Linda Bement then modelled the new 'orbit' crown perhaps more suited to the Universe title, which was also worn by the 1961 and 1962 winners, Marlene Schmidt of Germany and Norma Nolan of Argentina, respectively. Both the 1961 and 1962 pageants coincidentally were hosted by the legendary talk show host Johnny Carson. Miss Universe 1954, Miriam Stevenson of the U.S.A.Miss Universe 1960, Linda Bement of the U.S.A. wearing two different Miss Universe crowns! In 1963, we saw the first draft of the longest-running crown, which had the design of the woman in the center holding a scepter. This beautiful design became increasingly perfected around 1973 and held steady as the crown that everyone would come to associate with the Miss Universe pageant for many years and to many people will remain the eternally official Miss Universe crown. It adorned the heads of Miss Universe winners for almost 40 years up until 2002 when the new Mikimoto sponsor pearl crown, bearing a striking resemblance to the NBC peacock logo made its debut. The next year, the Miss Universe pageant moved from the CBS network to NBC which brings us to the present and the new CAO Fine Jewelry crown for Miss Universe 2008 in Vietnam. Rumor has it that this crown may only be for this year. If we revert back to the Mikimoto crown next year, it will be the first time in history that an old crown returned.

Miss Universe 1962, Norma Nolan of ArgentinaMiss Universe 1963, Ieda Maria Vargas of BrazilMiss Universe 1973, Margarita Moran of the PhilippinesMiss Universe 1984, Yvonne Ryding of Sweden
Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quinones of Puerto Rico wearing the previous Miss Universe crown crowns the original Miss Universe 2002, Oxana Fedorova of Russia with the Mikimoto crown

On to this year's pageant happening for the first time in Vietnam in Nha Trang. Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007 danced in the opening number like the true dancer she is. Jerry Springer, host of "America's Got Talent" and Spice Girl, Melanie Brown (aka. Mel B. or Scary Spice) served as fine hosts this year. Jerry didn't pull many antics and he was good with his comic timing. Both Jerry and Mel recently competed on 'Dancing With the Stars' as well. I thought Mel should have won her year but she was edged out by the smiley race car driver Helio Castroneves. The opening with the National Costumes was very nicely done. It was good to have captions with the names of each delegate and a full body shot showing the whole costume and then closeups of the faces. Riyo also looked great as she greeted the audience, you could tell she had hair extensions though. She also displayed her knowledge when she mentioned that she was the second Miss Universe from Japan after 48 years and she is still keen on starting her own dance school.

When it came time to announce the top 15, the delegates looked fabulous in their glittery Scala dresses by Sherri Hill. The top 15 was a bit disappointing though. I only picked 6 of them and 2 alternates which clearly shows some pretty poor nonsensical preliminary judging but c'est la vie. Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan, South Africa and Vietnam were the ones not in my list at all. I did have Czech Republic, Vietnam and Japan as suspects and a few called South Africa but I don't think anyone called Hungary. I guess it just made it that much easier for Dayana to ease her way to crown. So what happened to my girls that didn't make it? Well, first up was India's Simran Kaur Mundi who I pointed out was the only delegate to place as a finalist in all 3 of the previous competitions (Ao Dai, National Costume and Vinpearl swimsuit) but some thought she came across as more arrogant and conceited than confident and she maybe could have used more toning of her abs but I thought her performance overall was strong. Puerto Rico's Ingrid Rivera was another shocker to be absent from the finalists. Much ado was made about the fact that Ingrid had been seen hanging around Donald Trump over the year and lest we forget, the notable incident when it was highly publicized that someone allegedly pepper sprayed Ingrid's gown and makeup at the Miss Puerto Rico Universe pageant. Who knew this meant that Ingrid would be left out entirely. I thought she would earn a high placement because she certainly had the body, gown and presentation skills. She also placed as second runner up at Miss World 2005 and gave a strong performance there as well. Some thought her styling was a bit 80s but I like the big pageant hair and thought she was a great contender. There was a rumor floating around that she wasn't too happy with how her preliminary interview went but the exclusions of India and Puerto Rico seemed to have been done on purpose. Did you notice that I predicted India and Puerto Rico, who won in 2000 and 2001 respectively to be in the 2nd and 3rd runner up positions but in the actual results, Russia and Dominican Republic, who won in 2002 and 2003 ended up occupying those spots in reverse? Isn't that strange?? Also among the shocking exclusions was Panama who delivered in all categories and had a great gown presentation. Canada was also strong in swimsuit and gown but probably not as strong in interview. Croatia was also a decent contender and I thought it was finally time for them to make it as their delegate was good. Brazil also had a good contender. No idea what happened there. Trinidad sent a buff, well interviewed girl in Anya but Trinidad was denied this time. It was notable that Trinidad returned this year after an absence last year which broke the 4 year streak they had in the semifinals. I loved the sassy style of Denmark's Maria Sten-Knudsen but she was denied yet Denmark had two unexpected placements in the two years prior to this one. Korea's Sun Lee didn't really come across as warmhearted as her predecessor Honey Lee who placed in the top 5 last year but of Ines Ligron's girls, they gave it to Japan instead. As for my two alternates that made it, I regret not including Colombia as I didn't see it then but I do now. However, I didn't really think much of Spain and I still don't. Overall, I still think my list was better than the actual list.



Winner=Venezuela-Dayana Mendoza

Winner=Venezuela-Dayana Mendoza*

1st Runner Up=Colombia-Taliana Vargas

1st Runner Up=Mexico-Elisa Najera*

2nd Runner Up=Dominican Republic-Marianne Cruz Gonzalez

2nd Runner Up=India-Simran Kaur Mundi

3rd Runner Up=Russia-Vera Krasova

3rd Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Ingrid Rivera

4th Runner Up=Mexico-Elisa Najera

4th Runner Up=USA-Crystle Stewart*



6. Kosovo-Zana Krasniqi

Panama-Carolina Dementiev

7. Spain-Claudia Moro

Dominican Republic-Marianne Cruz Gonzalez*

8. USA-Crystle Stewart

Canada-Samantha Tajik

9. Italy-Claudia Ferraris

Australia-Laura Dundovic*

10. Australia-Laura Dundovic

Croatia-Snjezana Loncarevic



11. Czech Republic-Eliska Buckova

Brazil-Natalia Anderle

12. Hungary-Jazmin Dammak

Trinidad & Tobago-Anya Ayoung-Chee

13. South Africa-Tansey Coetzee

Kosovo-Zana Krasniqi*

14. Japan-Hiroko Mima

Denmark-Maria Sten-Knudsen

15. Vietnam-Lam Thuy Nguyen

Korea-Sun Lee


ALTERNATES:Colombia*, Germany, Norway, Kazakhstan, Spain*


HONORABLE MENTIONS:New Zealand, Antigua & Barbuda, Albania, Ukraine, China


* = made actual top 15

First up was the swimsuit competition set to the cool performance of Lady Gaga's "Just Dance". Just a side note, I love the 'half psychotic, hypnotic' part. The delegates that didn't make it all looked fine and really got into the dance. A lot of people really noticed the dramatic range in the scores, further demonstrating the oddness of this top 15. Some of them scored into the mid 9s and others in the low 7s. Of course, 5 of the 7 delegates that weren't in my list were eliminated in this first round. Only Russia and Italy managed to sneak ahead. Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza was first just like she was at Miss Venezuela interestingly enough since she represented the first state alphabetically of Amazonas. She whipped off that scarf and showed us why Venezuela dominates every year. What an amazing body Dayana possesses. With her long, lean, toned figure, full hair and great walk, Dayana was just sensational. Kosovo followed with her Angelina Jolie-ish look complete with the pouty lips. Some question whether Kosovo is actually even a country or not but this first time delegate certainly sent a very fascinating delegate. While she wasn't as tall, she certainly worked her body to the best of her ability. Mexico's Elisa Najera was next and some people were a little critical of her smaller upper body in spite of her long, lean frame but you couldn't notice it here. Her hair was looking great and she too had a great walk. Vietnam followed looking so out of place, it wasn't even funny that a spot was blatantly handed out to the host country delegate. She looked untoned and pale as reflected in her low score. Following her was South Africa. South Africa was shockingly excluded last year but this year's delegate clearly did not have the body even though I'm sure she interviewed well. Her hips and thighs looked too big in comparison to the rest of her body. Tansey also received one of the lower scores. Australia looked gorgeous but her walk was a bit stiff. She lacked the sexy, fluid body movements demonstrated by many of the Latin delegates. In spite of that, I thought her score was a bit too low because Laura certainly did have a nice body. She also broke a curse that Australia seems to have because although they won in 2004, Australia hadn't made the semifinals any other year since 1993 when Voni Delfos finished 4th. Japan followed bringing yet another low score. I wasn't particularly fond of that haircut and her augmentations looked a little obvious but certainly couldn't help this stumpy looking body. Dominican Republic followed looking tall and striking. Italy looked okay but she didn't seem to really have much flair. Colombia followed taking this competition. I didn't necessarily think she had the best body but it was solid. Something about her face doesn't quite photograph right to me almost as if her cheeks are a bit chubby and her nose looks almost too skinny and prominent. Russia looked decent, I suppose, but I wasn't really wowed by her either. Hungary was a surprise for practically everyone. Her midsection looked rather untoned and didn't really have strong stage presence. Czech Republic is another example of a pretty girl who just lacked the pizzazz that comes naturally to some other girls. USA's Crystle Stewart impressed though as was expected. Her body also looked phenomenal and presented with her signature poise and confidence. Spain concluded the competition with one of those thicker body types like Colombia but I thought her score was actually too high. Her Marilyn Monroe-ish facial expressions didn't really seem to impress many people.

The top 10 then proceeded to compete in the evening gown competition set to the song "Magic" by Robin Thicke whose father Alan Thicke coincidentally hosted the Miss Universe pageant exactly 20 years ago in 1988. It started with Kosovo in a nice bold pink gown that she worked well. Australia followed in a decent red gown but her presentation was a little bland. I mentioned earlier that Spain had a thicker frame and if anything this gold gown only further enhanced that and made her look wider. Mexico followed in a different gown other than the yellow one she wore in the preliminaries. This was yet another take on the gown worn by Shandi Finnessey when she won Miss USA 2004. Some thought it looked more like a bra with a sarong and I wasn't really too sure about the hairstyle. When I first saw Colombia's gown, I really didn't know what to think of it because Colombia normally delivers in a big way when it comes to evening gowns but this was a gown you just had to see up close and in action. It was all about her magical presentation and I really love those types of presentations. She did a nice spin and the gown landed nicely in place as she posed and elevated her score to a whopping 9.824. The colors of this gown did throw me and actually contributed to me placing her as an alternate in my list. The gown was the flowy type of gown similar to what Oxana Fedorova wore when she won Miss Universe 2002 but others still thought it was like a golden shower curtain... And then it happened...the fall of Crystle Stewart! I totally was not expecting that to happen again to Miss USA two years in a row. As Crystle was descending down one step, she fell on her backside and then got right back up applauding herself. After the pageant, this fall was what made the headlines in the news shows and when interviewed about it, Crystle said that she had stepped on bugle beads attached to the train of her gown designed by Carlos Alberto of Puerto Rico and it was like she was on roller skates. Rachel Smith, Crystle's predecessor, of course also had the fall but Rachel still advanced to the top 5 yet Crystle had to settle for 8th position with a score of 8.05. Some people thought it was Jerry Springer's fault for calling her a little too soon while the dancers were performing and then having to call her again but Crystle still looked composed at that moment before the fall. Another thing, I want to point out was that some people thought that if the scoring was based on averages of both swimsuit and gown that Crystle would have advanced to top 5 over Russia since she had a high swimsuit score but actually Crystle would have placed 6th and Spain actually would have advanced if the scores were based on averages but the swimsuit scores are erased when the top 10 are announced and they begin competing anew for the top 5 spots. The conspiracy theorist in me that refuses to leave is a little suspicious that Miss USA of all delegates would fall two years in a row. The train itself could have caught the edge of her heel but I'm not going to think about it too much or the fact that it was all over the news the next day. I did sense that something would happen to keep Crystle from the Miss Universe crown and this ended up being it. Next followed Dominican Republic and I was glad that she made it and that she wore this gown because I was just aching to know how people would react to it. It was the notorious see-through gown with conveniently placed bits of mirror also worn by a previous Miss Venezuela contestant. Marianne was very daring to wear such a sexy gown and I admired that and it ended up propelling her to the top 3. Russia followed in a cleaned up version of Oxana Fedorova's gown but she ended up looking like a total wannabe and lacked originality. Italy followed a basic black gown with the scarf around the neck but again she was just there and had no really strong presence. Venezuela completed the competition with the vibrant yellow gown reflecting her sunny personality and I loved the twirl she did to flutter and open up the skirt. 'This show really is live.' declared Mel B. after witnessing Crystle Stewart's fall.

SCORESHEET - Miss Universe 2008
















South Africa









Dominican Republic















Czech Republic









We then progressed to the top 5 and like the 2005 pageant held in Thailand, there was Latin domination. 4 of the top 5 were Latina beauties again and the other spot went to a Russian. In 2005, Puerto Rico made it but Colombia made it in 2008 and in 2005, Natalie Glebova representing Canada (but born in Russia) made it and in 2008, Russia made it. I did sense that this year's top 5 would be a play on the 2005 year which was reflected in my predictions list which I will point out now. You might notice in my predictions list, I reversed the order of the top 5 from that year (i.e. Venezuela was 5th in 2005, Mexico was 4th, Dominican Republic was 3rd, Puerto Rico was 2nd and Canada 1st) but I placed them in reverse order with Venezuela as winner, Mexico as 1st runner up and Puerto Rico as 3rd runner up, replacing Canada with USA and Dominican Republic with India as I was expecting Puerto Rico and India to make it but instead it was Dominican Republic and Russia that made it. Earlier in my commentary, I pointed out that India won in 2000 and Puerto Rico in 2001 but Russia won in 2002 and Dominican Republic in 2003 and it was those two countries that advanced instead. Just when I think I have it, they pull something on me! Oh well. The top 5 were asked their final questions. Colombia chose Jennifer Hawkins' question which echoed 2001's final question asking if she could go back into the past and change one thing, what would it be and why. Colombia replied with a 'Sin Chao, Vietnam!' to get the audience on her side. But it didn't work for her, or for Dominican Republic or Mexico for that matter, although it did work for Natalie Glebova in 2005 and I believe all 5 at Miss World 2003 greeted the Chinese audience the same way in their year. Colombia had a bit of a rocky start to her answer and stated that in her life, she had been...a really...It's been a wonderful life for her as she comes from a big family, huge values, so there's nothing she would change in her past life. She has been happy every single day of her entire life because of her family and they're always the best for everything, so everything's perfect... Mmhmm... realistically, we all have our down moments but she decided to go the same route that almost all the 2001 delegates went which was the same safe answer that she wouldn't change anything because the past made them who they are today. I will admit I was a little nervous about Colombia particularly after seeing her high scores because I heard a rumor that her grandfather lives in Virginia and knows and has conversed with Donald Trump. Venezuela followed being asked by Louis Licari if she believed that men or women have it easier in life and why. Dayana, in her confident, natural style said that actually God made us to share and to have difference but the big difference between women and men (it doesn't matter what kind of life they life) is that men think the faster way to go to a point is to go straight but women know that the faster way to go to a point is through the curves and fixing every curves... Dayana certainly had a point and women have curves too, right? Dominican Republic was asked by Donald Trump Jr. what the biggest sacrifice she ever had to make and how she handled it. Dominican Republic greeted the Vietnamese audience and then through her translator said that in reality, she has had to work since she was really young since her parents were divorced and it's very difficult to leave childhood behind. Notwithstanding, the fact she feels the sacrifices are well worth it because she saw her mother up there in the audience crying for her and she has continued and everything has been worth it. It was also a nice answer. Next up was Mexico who was asked her question by Roberto Cavalli. The camera did this extreme closeup of him giving this creepy, borderline ravenous/wolvish look to Miss Mexico after he asked 'Mi amore', when a woman is truly (cue horny sigh)... satisfied???... We could see his hand holding the microphone but I want to know where his other hand was since it seemed like it was holding his 'other microphone' if you know what I mean... I was just in stitches after seeing the way he asked this question and the interesting thing is Cavalli has judged several times before and even married the 1st runner up to Miss Universe 1977, Eva Duringer of Austria. Elisa handled it very well though and calmly greeted the Vietnamese audience. She said she thinks a woman can feel satisfied when she has a balance in her life, when she has mind, soul and all the feelings at the same level. It's important to have a balance between family, between your job and between your community. I will say that I was surprised that Mexico ended up 4th runner up after giving this answer. Perhaps it was because Cavalli was expecting a different type of answer or maybe it had something to do with the booing that Miss USA had to endure last year when the pageant was held in Mexico and this was some sort of background way of punishing those members of that audience. Russia was asked by Eesha Koppikhar if there is still discrimination against women and what can be done about it. Using her translator, Russia answered that she thinks that in our times women have become smarter and stronger so she thinks women can not only have a successful career but raise wonderful children and I think in our time, women will be better. Russia managed to sneak ahead even further to the 3rd runner up position.

Riyo Mori then pulled another first on us and did her farewell wearing pants! 'That's how your supposed to wear a tux.' declared Jerry Springer. In her farewell speech, it was nice that Riyo echoed the words that won her the crown during her final question which told us all to remain patient, positive and happy. 4th runner up was Mexico, 3rd runner up was Russia, 2nd runner up was Dominican Republic and we had neighboring countries in the final two: Colombia and Venezuela. This is the one of 4 times that two countries that touch each other geographically have made the final two. Peru and Brazil were the final two in 1957, Colombia and Brazil were the final two in 1958 and Sweden and Finland were the final two in 1966. Of course, there have been other years where a nearby country made the final two (i.e. Venezuela and Aruba in 96, Trinidad and Venezuela in 98, etc.) but this is an interesting, rare occurrence. Of course, in the end , I was elated to see Venezuela capture its long deserved crown thanks to Dayana Mendoza. Colombia has placed as 1st runner up for the 4th time in history and they have yet to get another winner since they won once in 1958. Dayana said she was a kipnapping victim about two years ago but you'd never guess that given that great personality and positive attitude. The new princess Dayana is dynamic and I hope she has a wonderful reign.


Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP