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Miss Venezuela Wins 45th Annual Miss Universe Pageant

May 18, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A white-gowned Miss Venezuela who told judges she would rather be smart than rich or beautiful was crowned Miss Universe 1996 on Friday night, beating out 78 contestants from around the world.

Alicia Machado, 19, succeeds Chelsi Smith, a 22-year-old college student from Deer Park, Texas, who won the Miss USA title last year.

Machado said her plans for her first day as the new Miss Universe were to do ``something I haven’t been able to do in three weeks: eat, eat, eat and sleep.″

Machado, who is studying law and business management, made a sign of the cross as Smith placed the crown on her head.

``Being smart, you can also be rich and beautiful,″ the 5-foot-9 Machado told judges earlier. ``When you are smart you can develop into being many other things.″

Machado, the daughter of a toy store owner in Maracay, Venezuela, also said she would like to own her own restaurant someday.

The first runner-up was Taryn Mansell of Aruba, and the second runner-up was Lola Odusoga of Finland. Other top 10 finalists included Miss USA, Ali Landry, of Breaux Bridge, La.; Milena Mayorga of El Salvador; Sandhya Chib of India; Vanessa Guzman of Mexico; Natali Sacco of Peru; Ilmira Shamsutdinova of Russia and Annika Duckmark of Sweden.

Co-hosts for the 45th annual event were ``Entertainment Tonight″ weekend host Bob Goen and Marla Maples Trump. It was telecast on CBS.

The international event took a diplomatic shot Tuesday when Indonesia’s minister for women’s affairs criticized the pageant, saying her nation’s dominant Muslim religion forbids public exposure of most parts of the body.

Alya Rohali, a 19-year-old student from Jakarta University, won the Miss Indonesia title in a competition that emphasized culture, education and intelligence, with contestants wearing long dresses but no swimsuits.

But she wore a swimsuit for the Miss Universe pageant and was unperturbed by the flap, said Wendy Schwartz, a pageant spokeswoman.

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