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Mexican beauty crowned Miss Universe

Mexico’s Jimena Navarrete was crowned Miss Universe last night in a victory that has shocked the pageant world, which predicted the winner would come from Ireland, United States or Venezuela.

The 22-year-old, who has been modelling since she was 15, was also surprised by the result: “I just went blank, there was nothing going through my mind. I was in a state of shock,” she said.

Her coronation puts an end to Venezuela’s domination of the pageant, whose entrants have won the competition for the past two years.

The beauties were asked to comment on a number of issues during the finals, ranging from Internet safety and education to political issues.

While there was little controversy at this year’s event, Miss USA – 24-year-old Rima Fakih, who is the country’s first ever Muslim entrant – is said to have disappointed Islamic leaders by saying she opposes the construction of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York. Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe organisation, had already come out against the mosque prior to the pageant.

When eventual winner Navarrete was asked by Olympic gold-medal figure skater Evan Lysacek how she felt about unsupervised Internet use, she told the audience that parents need to be careful.

“I do believe the Internet is an indispensable, necessary tool,” she said. “We must be sure to teach them [children] the values that we learned as a family.”

She will now receive a one-year scholarship to the New York Film Academy, a year’s supply of shoes, dresses, hair products, and, of course, a tiara.