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Miss Russia Named 2002 Miss Universe

May 30, 2002

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Oxana Fedorova of Russia won the 2002 Miss Universe crown Wednesday night, wearing a white evening gown and telling a roaring audience that she blushes when she says the wrong thing.

All of the final five contestants were asked the last interview question, ``What makes you blush?″

Miss Panama, 22-year-old Justine Pasek, was first runner-up; Miss China, 19-year-old Ling Zhuo, took second runner-up; Miss South Africa, 22-year-old Vanessa Carreira, won third runner-up; and Miss Venezuela, 19-year-old Cynthia Lander Zamora, took fourth place.

Anisa Kospiri of Albania, Neha Dhupia of India, Natascha Borger of Germany, Demetra Eleftheriou of Cyprus and Neelam Verma of Canada rounded out the top 10.

Miss Puerto Rico, 21-year-old Isis Marie Casalduc, won the Miss Photogenic award, but she and Miss USA, 23-year-old Shauntay Hinton, failed to make the top 10.

Contestants are judged in three categories _ swimsuit, evening gown and the interview.

With acrobats dangling from a rope and fountains gushing streams of water on stage, Latin crooner Marc Anthony performed two numbers in English. The New Yorker born to Puerto Rican parents had wanted to perform a salsa number in Spanish but CBS wanted him to do two of his best-known hits, which are in English.

Former National Football League player Phil Simms and actress-model Daisy Fuentes hosted the contest at San Juan’s Roberto Clemente Coliseum. Contestants from 75 countries and territories competed.

Denise Quinones of Puerto Rico crowned her successor with a new $250,000 crown of diamonds and pearls.

Miss Russia gets prizes worth about $250,000 in addition to promotional contracts and a two-year scholarship to The School for Film and Television in New York. She also gets to spend a year in New York on a salary and is provided with a luxury riverside apartment.

The show was broadcast live by CBS to more than 176 countries and territories.

Miss U.S. Virgin Islands, Merlisa Rhonda George, won the Miss Congeniality award. The costume prize went to Miss Colombia, 20-year-old Vanessa Mendoza.

Among the judges were Guess model Tyrese, women’s fashion designer Nicole Miller, ``Baywatch″ actress Gena Lee Nolin, and the winner of ``Survivor Africa,″ Ethan Zohn.

Organizers said they hoped the glitzy contest will take people’s minds off the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the world’s political woes.

``I think we all need a diversion,″ said organizer Mary Hilliard. ``At the end of the day, it’s a beauty pageant and it’s a television show.″

This year’s pageant has been devoid of controversy, unlike last year when an Internet rumor accused Miss France of being a man.

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