Miss USA wins Miss Universe title for first time in 15 years

Boston University sophomore Olivia Culpo took the place of last year's winner, Leila Lopes of Angola

Prachi Gupta
December 20, 2012 10:26PM (UTC)

Twenty-year-old Boston University sophomore Olivia Culpo is now the world's reigning beauty queen, winning the title of Miss Universe 2012 last night. Culpo is the first American to have this honor in 15 years.

Culpo, a Dean's List student and cellist who has played alongside Yo-Yo Ma and performed at Carnegie Hall, surprised her family when she decided to enter in the Miss Rhode Island pageant last year. “We didn’t know a thing about pageants,” said her father. He called her the “nerdiest” of her four siblings, and apparently she was “really chubby and sort of weird when she was younger," according to her brother. But Culpo went on to win the 2012 Miss Rhode Island crown (awarded in September 2011) -- wearing a rented $20 dress with a tear in it, no less.


After that, she starting dieting, working out and studying current events to compete for the Miss USA competition in June.

Now, as Miss Universe, Culpo hopes to focus on HIV/AIDS prevention.

“It’s such an honor to be representing the USA in an international beauty contest in spite of all the tragedy that’s happened in this country lately,” she said. “I really hope that this will raise everybody’s spirits a little.” She'll be awarded an undisclosed salary and a luxury apartment in New York City.


h/t NY Daily News

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

MORE FROM Prachi GuptaFOLLOW prachiguLIKE Prachi Gupta

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Beauty Pageant Boston University Miss Universe Miss Usa Olivia Culpo

Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •