Wearing her topaz- and sapphire-studded, $300,000 crown, the newest Miss Universe — Paulina Vega, hailing from Colombia — addressed throngs of international reporters at Trump National Doral Miami late Sunday night.
“It is amazing,” she said of the crown after pausing for photos in her sparkling silver gown. “It’s very new, very modern, it’s very different. I will wear it with pride and excitement.”
The conference, which also included Donald Trump, came after Doral and its surrounding areas were showcased for millions of viewers around the world as Vega was named Miss Universe at Florida International University.
Vega, who hails from Barranquilla, was emotional as she received her crown. The runner-up was Miss USA Nia Sanchez.
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At the resort, she said being in Doral “felt like I was in Colombia with my people.”
The coronation comes after the pageant’s 88 contestants spent about three weeks in the Miami area getting a taste of South Florida, participating in parades, attending photo shoots and visiting local attractions.
Broadcast on NBC and Telemundo, the pageant included snippets of the women at the beach in Key Biscayne, painting a mural with Romero Britto in Wynwood and lounging at the pool at Trump National Doral, the host resort.
Real-estate mogul Trump was featured in a short video about Doral that highlighted its growth and why it’s a great place to live, work and play.
“That really says it all,” Trump said.
At the news conference, Trump announced that the pageant will now be aired for at least five years on Univision instead of Telemeundo.
He called it a “major,” announcement
Earlier in the day, the Trump National Doral was awash in glamor and gowns on the red carpet hours before the real-estate mogul’s 63rd Miss Universe pageant was set to begin at nearby FIU and thanked Telemundo for their past relationship.
Press members from all over the world eagerly awaited the arrival of celebrities, which included judges, performers and beauty queens.
“You guys are doing a great job,” Trump told the group of reporters as he took the red carpet.
Despite some controversy leading up to the main event — Miss Lebanon took a selfie with Miss Israel, and Doral’s mayor said Trump didn’t deserve a key to the city — the excitement for the pageant Sunday was palpable.
One of the judges, Project Runway fashionista Nina Garcia, naturally, said she was “looking forward to seeing all the dresses.”
Across town at FIU’s arena, early arrivals wearing sparkling gowns and carrying flags from different countries waited patiently to get into the show.
“This is a dream come true,” said Nathalie Soler, 23, who was wearing her Miss Hialeah sash proudly. “It’s not as superficial as people think. It is a beautiful way to bring people together.”
The journey to becoming Miss Universe began with a preliminary competition Wednesday, where judges whittled the group down to 15 finalists from 88 contestants.
The broadcast began with each woman showing off a costume that represented her country, which was filmed Wednesday. Miss Indonesia was voted by fans as the favorite. Then the finalists were named: Colombia, Italy, India, France, USA, Indonesia, Venezuela, Spain, Philippines, Argentina, Jamaica, Ukraine, Brazil, Netherlands and Australia.
To the sounds of Prince Royce, the 15 women showed off their pink bikinis, showing off taut tummies and ample cleavage. Viewers also learned about the women, who volunteer for various organizations, go to school and help their communities.
Then came the 10, who showed off their evening gowns as Nick Jonas performed Jealous. Eliminated were: Italy, India, France, Indonesia and Brazil.
The final five — USA, Jamaica, Colombia, Netherlands and Ukraine — answered two questions each: one by the judges and one by fans.
After the three-hour show, the winner was crowned by outgoing Miss Universe Gabriela Isler, from Venezuela.
“Lots of excitement,” said co-host Natalie Morales as Vega hugged her fellow contestants.
The excitement would continue late into the night with an after-party. Before Trump and Vega took off, Trump had some advice for Vega: “She has to remain grounded,” he said.