Mexico City: A 20-year-old dancer from Japan who wants to someday open an international dance school, was crowned Miss Universe 2007 at a glittering gala function on the night of 28 May. Second place went to Natalia Guimaraes, 22, from Brazil, and Ly Jonaitis, 21, from Venezuela.
Riyo Mori nervously grabbed the hands of first runner-up Natalia Guimaraes of Brazil just before the winner was announced. She trembled in awe as the diamond-and-pearl-studded crown was placed on her head.
Miss USA Rachel Smith, whose chances may have been dimmed when she slipped and fell to the floor during the evening gown competition, was the contest’s fourth runner-up. Also finishing in the top five were second runner-up Ly Jonaitis of Venezuela and third runner-up Honey Lee of Korea.
The winner travels the world for a year on behalf of charities and pageant sponsors. Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza of Puerto Rico crowned her successor at the end of the two-hour telecast with the headpiece valued at $250,000.
The 15 finalists from a field of 77 contestants were announced early during the day. They were picked last week during preliminary judging in the contest’s swimsuit, evening gown and interview categories, but their names were not announced until Monday, allowing all 77 to be introduced to the television audience.
As soon as the final 15 had been selected, they immediately strutted across the stage in animal-print bikinis for the swimsuit competition to the music of Mexican pop group RBD. Miss India, Pooja Gupta made it to the first ten, but had to bow out when the final shortlisting of the last five finalists were announced.
Meanwhile the contestant from Philippines walked away with the Miss Photogenic title and the beauty queen from China was unanimously awarded the Miss Congeniality award.