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Neha KapurMiss Puerto Rico crowned Miss Universe
24th July 2006  15.30 IST
By Agencies  


Miss Puerto Rico, Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza, was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday night at the Shrine Auditorium near downtown Los Angeles.

Rivera Mendoza was the youngest of the five finalists at the 55th Miss Universe contest. She is from Salinas on the Caribbean island's southern coast.



The first runner-up was Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana, 24. Miss Switzerland was the second runner-up.

Indian hope Neha Kapur failed to make it to the top 10 after having crossed the first hurdle of making it to the top 20. Neha was eliminated in the second round.

Puerto Rican beauty Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza clasped her hands to her mouth in amazement as her name was called, declaring her the Miss Universe 2006.

"I always had faith and confidence in myself, but I never knew I was going to win," Rivera, speaking in Spanish from the stage, said in her first remarks as Miss Universe.


She said she would continue the pageant's mission of promoting awareness and education about AIDS and HIV.

"I want to tell those people there's always problems in life, but there's always possibilities to improve things," she said.

The event, run by real estate mogul Donald Trump's organization, now attracts most interest in Latin America and in the Asia-Pacific region though it is broadcast to an estimated 600 million people in 170 countries.

The jury was also Latino-heavy, with Telemundo anchorwoman Maria Celeste Arraras and the Dominican Republic's Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega among them.



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