Miss Australia, Jennifer Hawkins, was named Miss Universe 2004 in a two-hour pageant in this Andean capital watched by hundreds of millions of television viewers around the world.
The five Miss Universe 2004 finalists, Miss Trinidad & Tobago Danielle Jones, Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Puerto Rico Alba Reyes, Miss USA Shandi Finnessey and Miss Paraguay Yanina Gonzalez (L-R); pose in their evening gowns during the live broadcast of the Miss Universe pageant in Quito, June 1, 2004. [Reuters]
Hawkins, a 20-year-old 5-foot-11-inch-tall (180-centimeter-tall) blonde with blue eyes, was chosen Tuesday night from among 80 beauty queens representing their respective countries.
Miss USA, Shandi Finnessey, was first runner-up.
The ceremony took place at a convention center of the northern outskirts of Quito, where 7,500 spectators gathered to witness the crowning of the world's most beautiful woman.
The three other finalists were Miss Puerto Rico Alba Reyes, second runner-up; Miss Paraguay Yanina Gonzalez, third runner-up and Miss Trinidad & Tobago Danielle Jones, fourth runner-up.
Hawkins and Finnessey hugged before the winner was announced.
Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins (L) reacts after being crowned Miss Universe 2004 by Amelia Vega (R), Miss Universe 2003, in Quito, June 1, 2004.[Reuters]
Hawkins received the crown from outgoing Miss Universe 2003, Amelia Vega, from the Dominican Republic, and then walked down the runway, smiling and waving to the cheering crowd.
She is involved in modeling and dancing and said in a press release that she choreographs a dance team that tours Australia. She said her interests are surfing, wakeboarding, camping with family, watching football with her father, reading, watching movies and going to see the Australian ballet. (来源：英语麦当劳 http://www.EnglishCN.com)
The finalists were announced after 10 semifinalists paraded in swimsuits before the crowd.
Before the pageant began, singer Gloria Estefan defended the contest from critics who consider such events frivolous.
Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins of Australia poses in her evening gown the live broadcast of the Miss Universe pageant in Quito, June 1, 2004. [Reuters]
``A beautiful woman has very great powers to convince, and we have seen many misses who have done a great job,'' said the Cuban-American singer, who performed at the Miss Universe finals Tuesday night. ``The new Miss Universe should do a spectacular job helping the needy.'' .
The two-hour finals were broadcast live around the world. Organizers expected the pageant to be seen by 1.5 television billion viewers in 180 countries.
All 80 contestants participated in the finals, in which the winner was to be selected from among 15 semifinalists.
The 15 semifinalists were chosen _ but not announced _ in a preliminary bathing suit and evening gown showdown on Thursday. The 15 semifinalists were reduced to 10 Tuesday night.
The panel of judges included musician Emilio Estefan, actress Bo Derek and supermodel Petra Nemcova.
Kwame Jackson, who was runner-up on the US reality show ``The Apprentice,'' was dropped as a judge at the beauty event. Jackson was disqualified Monday by pageant organizers for greeting beauty queens he bumped into in the lobby of their hotel.
``Just being here makes me feel like a winner and if I get to be one of the finalists, it will be great and I will feel like one of the proudest women in the world,'' Miss Spain Maria Jesus Ruiz said Monday. However, she did not make the cut.
Miss Puerto Rico Alba Reyes, who was chosen Miss Photogenic Tuesday night, predicted ``a tough final.''
``There is a lot of competition this year, many beautiful, intelligent candidates with lots of personality. I think it's going to be close,'' she said.
Vega, the 2003 winner, a 19-year-old from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, plans to launch a career as a singer after passing on her crown. Her uncle, Juan Luis Guerra, is Latin America's king of merengue music.
Ecuadoreans were hoping the two-hour show would showcase the beauty of their country and attract tourists to this small Andean nation.
Miss USA Shandi Finnessey (L) and Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins await the final decision in the 2004 Miss Universe contest in Quito, June 1, 2004. Hawkins, a 20-year-old model and dance choreographer, won the 2004 title at a dazzling ceremony in Ecuador on Tuesday from a field of 80 beauty queens. Finnessey won second place and Alba Reyes of Puerto Rico, an aspiring doctor, came in third. [Reuters]
Ten minutes of the program spotlighted the country's attractions _ ranging from the unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands to snowcapped volcanoes, highland Indian communities and the lush vegetation of its Amazon jungle.
``Ecuador is going to shine for what it is, an unforgettable place, when you see the videos we have made for the show,'' said Daisy Fuentes, who hosted the program along with Billy Bush.
Tuesday night's show ended three weeks of intensive activities for the contestants, who arrived in Ecuador on May 10-11.
During the past three weeks, the women have traveled throughout the country, participating in parades in Guayaquil, where 150,000 gathered to watch; in Cuenca, a colonial jewel in southern Ecuador, and in Quito, the capital. Six of the contestants also flew 600 miles (965 kilometers) out into the Pacific to visit the giant tortoises and other exotic animals on the Galapagos Islands.
The beauty queens have also visited hospitals to chat with children who are ill with cancer or are physically or mentally handicapped.