Mexico's Jimena Navarrete Crowned Miss Universe

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LAS VEGAS -- From flags to Facebook, 22-year-old Jimena Navarrete has quickly made it clear what she plans to promote as the world's newest Miss Universe - her home country of Mexico.

"I want the whole world to know about my country and mypeople," the Guadalajara native said after beating 82 competitorsfor global bragging rights at the pageant in Las Vegas.

"I imagine that they're all going crazy in Mexico right now,"she said through an interpreter. "I'm extremely proud and I'm surethey're very proud, too."

She donned a flowing red dress, strutted confidently in a violetbikini, and said onstage that the Internet is indispensable andrequires parents to impart family values.

The model-turned pageant queen then posed for pictures with aMexican flag and Mexico's last Miss Universe as congratulationsfrom her countrymen came pouring in.

"Her triumph is a source of pride and satisfaction for allMexicans, who see in her the fruits of perseverance," MexicanPresident Felipe Calderon said in a statement. Immediately afterher win, Calderon said on Twitter that her victory would helpMexico's image as a country.

"We won, long live Mexico!" Navarrete said on her fan page onFacebook, spurring 478 "likes" and 218 comments in about onehour.

She was cheered by Spanish-speaking reporters clamoring to talkwith her after the pageant, and twice answered questions about

Arizona's recent immigration law.

"Every country has the right to impose and enact their laws,"she said, wearing her new sash and sparkling tiara. "But I tellyou that all the Mexicans and the Latins that are living here inthe United States are hardworking people - people who want toimprove on their quality of life."

The Miss Universe pageant is known for grabbing headlines - andNavarrete appears ready to make her mark.

She's Mexico's second Miss Universe. Lupita Jones - Navarrete'snational pageant director - won in 1991. Navarrete has beenmodeling since she was 15 and came to Miss Universe after winningfor Jalisco, then Mexico, in the country's Nuestra Belleza pageant.

Navarrete replaces Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of

Venezuela. She also spoiled a bid by Miss Venezuela Marelisa Gibsonfrom giving the South American country a third consecutive victory.Neither Gibson nor Miss USA Rima Fakih made the top 15 finalists.

With fans in some 190 countries watching on television andkeeping tabs on social networks, Navarrete and her competitorsintroduced themselves while wearing over-the-top national costumes.They then danced in silver and black dresses for the show's openingnumber before the last 15 finalists were announced.

The final 15 walked in swimsuits while Cirque du Soleilmusicians played Elvis Presley songs including "Viva Las Vegas."The last 10 impressed in their gowns while John Legend and theRoots played a soulful medley including "Save Room."

By the end of the show, seven of the top 10 trending topics onTwitter had to do with the pageant, its contestants, its judges orowner Donald Trump. The mogul co-owns the pageant with TV network

NBC.

The show was without any major gaffes, except for Miss

Philippines' answer when asked what her biggest mistake in life wasand how she fixed it.

"In my 22 years of existence, I can say there is nothingmajor," Venus Raj said.

Before the pageant, Raj was rated among the top contestants inan online poll on the pageant's website. She finished in fifthplace.

Asked by Olympic gold-medal figure skater Evan Lysacek how shefelt about unsupervised Internet use, Navarrete said the Internetis important.

"I do believe that Internet is an indispensable, necessary toolfor the present time," she said through an interpreter. "We mustbe sure to teach them the values that we learned as a family."

Lysacek was one of this year's nine celebrity judges. The otherswere actresses Jane Seymour and Chynna Phillips; actors ChazzPalminteri and William Baldwin; magician Criss Angel; MSNBC anchorTamron Hall; drummer Sheila E.; and supermodel Niki Taylor.

Navarrete won a package of prizes including an undisclosedsalary, a luxury New York apartment with living expenses, aone-year scholarship to the New York Film Academy with housingafter her reign, plus jewelry, clothes and shoes fit for a beautychampion.

Campbell won the Miss Congeniality Universe award. Miss ThailandFonthip Watcharatrakul won Miss Photogenic Universe and a secondaward for having the best national costume.

First runner-up was Miss Jamaica Yendi Phillipps, while secondrunner-up was Miss Australia Jesinta Campbell.

Fakih, a 24-year-old Lebanese immigrant from Dearborn, Mich.,spurred celebrations among Arab-Americans when she won Miss USA.Pageant records aren't detailed enough to show whether Fakih is thefirst Arab-American, Muslim or immigrant to win Miss USA.

Miss USA has not been named Miss Universe since Brook Lee wonthe title in 1997.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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