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PNB - Miss Universe

May 28, 2007 - Mexico City

All photos courtesy of Miss Universe Inc.

Riyo Mori
Riyo Mori, Miss Japan, is crowned Miss Universe 2007
Miss Japan catches the crown

The 2007 Miss Universe Pageant made disapproving headlines in the United States and may have tarnished the image of Mexico, but its winner charmed the world with her quick reflexes.

Riyo Mori, Miss Japan, was crowned Miss Universe on May 28, 2007, in Mexico City. The 20-year-old dancer is the first winner from the Land of the Rising Sun since 1959.

Riyo MoriRiyo MoriRiyo Mori
Riyo MoriRiyo MoriRiyo Mori
In what will be an enduring image in Miss Universe history, the outgoing Miss Universe, Zuleyka Rivera, tried unsuccessfully to put the $250,000 tiara on Ms. Mori's head, and it fell toward the floor. Ms. Mori deftly caught it.

The first runner-up was Natalia Guimaraes of Brazil, and the second runner-up was Ly Jonaitis of Venezuela. The third runner-up was Honey Lee of Korea, and the fourth runner-up was Miss USA, Rachel Smith.

In a year where Asian contestants were in the ascendant, the winner of Miss Congeniality was Miss China, Ningning Zhang, and the winner of Miss Photogenic was Miss Philippines, Anna Theresa Licaros.Top five
Besides the Final Five, those in the Top 10 semifinalists were Puja Gupta of India, Flaviana Matata of Tanzania, Rosa Maria Ojeda Cuen of Mexico, Xiomara Blandino of Nicaragua and Micaela Reis of Angola. Others among the Top 15 were Tjasa Kokalj of Slovenia, Zaklina Sojic of Denmark, Lyudmila Bikmullina of Ukraine, Lucie Hadasova of the Czech Republic and Farum Yuthithum of Thailand.
Miss Photogenic
Miss Photogenic: Miss Philippines, Anna Theresa Licaros
The most enduring memories the pageant left in the United States were negative. Raucous members of the live Mexican audience repeatedly booed Ms. Smith, the USA representative, who gamely endured the verbal abuse despite falling on her bottom during one presentation. Her attempts to greet the crowd in Spanish did little to ease the animosity.

Officials of Miss Universe Inc., which is based in the United States, blamed the Mexican antipathy on current politics in the United States. The debate in Washington, D.C., over millions of illegal Mexican workers is at a critical point.

Whatever the reasons, the behavior triggered anger north of the border, even among those who are not normally pageant fans. The fact that it occurred on U.S. Memorial Day -- a relatively somber holiday in which war dead are commemorated -- did not help the perception.

Pageant critics in Europe, Asia and Latin America generally took the USA side, calling the crowd's behavior unacceptably crude.

Will this be a turning point in U.S.-Mexican relations. Let us hope not.

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