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[07/23/06 - 12:00 AM]
Miss Puerto Rico, Zuleyka Rivera Crowned Miss Universe(R) 2006 During Live NBC Telecast on July 23rd

[via press release from NBC]

MISS PUERTO RICO, ZULEYKA RIVERA CROWNED MISS UNIVERSE� 2006 DURING LIVE NBC TELECAST ON JULY 23RD

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- July 23, 2006 �- This evening, during one of the year�s most exciting live television events, a star-studded panel of judges chose Zuleyka Rivera, Miss Puerto Rico, as MISS UNIVERSE� 2006.

The 18-year-old delegate from Puerto Rico was crowned at the conclusion of the 55th Annual broadcast on NBC live from Los Angeles, California.

Access Hollywood�s Nancy O�Dell and actor/singer Carlos Ponce (7th Heaven), hosted the live telecast from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. Commentary was provided by Carson Kressley of Bravo�s Queer Eye along with Miss USA 2004, Shandi Finnessey throughout the live telecast.

Miss Universe 2006 was chosen by an international judging panel which included NBC�s Las Vegas star James Lesure; NBC�s latest winner from The Apprentice, Sean Yazbeck; renowned fashion photographer Patrick McMullan; Project Runway�s Santino Rice; NBC�s Deal or No Deal briefcase model Claudia Jordan; Telemundo�s Al Rojo Vivo anchor Maria Celeste Arraras; former Miss Universe Amelia Vega; television writer/creator Marc Cherry; former Miss Teen USA and actress, Bridgette Wilson Sampras; comedian Tom Green and former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith.

Sony BMG artist Chelo performed his new song �Cha Cha� during the two-hour live telecast and 28-year-old opera-sensation Vittorio Grigolo performed selections from his debut album, �In The Hands Of Love.�

Throughout the two-hour event, the delegates competed in three categories; swimsuit, evening gown and interview. During these competitions the �Top Five� finalists were selected before the crowning. Natalie Glebova, Miss Universe 2005, crowned her successor at the conclusion of the two-hour primetime telecast, before an estimated worldwide viewing audience of more than 600 hundred million in over 180 countries.

Final Results:

First Runner Up: Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana will assume the duties of MISS UNIVERSE 2006 if the titleholder for some reason cannot fulfill her responsibilities.

Second Runner Up: Miss Switzerland, Lauriane Gillieron

Rest of Top Five:
Miss Switzerland, Lauriane Gillieron
Miss Paraguay, Lourdes Arevalos
Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana
Miss United States, Tara Conner
Miss Puerto Rico, Zuleyka Rivera

Rest of Top Ten:
Miss Canada, Alice Panikian
Miss Trinidad/Tobago, Kenisha Thom
Miss Bolivia, Desiree Duran
Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana
Miss Puerto Rico, Zuleyka Rivera
Miss United States, Tara Conner
Miss Switzerland, Lauriane Gillieron
Miss Mexico, Priscila Perales
Miss Colombia, Valerie Dominguez
Miss Paraguay, Lourdes Arevalos

� National Costume Award: Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana. Chosen by a local panel of judges during a two-hour telecast in Los Angeles, California for the delegate who displayed her country�s pride and spirit best in costume.

� Congeniality Award: Miss Ghana, Angela Asare. The award reflects the respect and admiration of the delegate�s peers, who voted for her as the most congenial, charismatic and inspirational participant.

� Photogenic Award: Miss Philippines, Lia Andrea Ramos. The general public voted on www.nbc.com for the delegate who exemplifies beauty through the lens of a camera.

Sponsors of MISS UNIVERSE� 2006 include Mikimoto, �Official Jewelry� sponsor, Tadashi Fashions, �Official Fashion� sponsor; � BSC Swimwear Thailand, �Official Swimwear sponsor,� Farouk Systems, �Official Haircare� sponsor, NINA Shoes, �Official Fashion Footwear,� The School for Film and Television and CoverGirl, �Official Cosmetic� sponsor.

The Miss Universe Organization, producers of the MISS UNIVERSE�, MISS USA� and MISS TEEN USA� competitions, is a Donald J. Trump and NBC partnership. Utilizing its global grass roots infrastructure, the Miss Universe Organization is committed to increasing HIV/AIDS Awareness by focusing on women's health and reproductive issues. By forging relationships with organizations committed to research and education, such as the Global Health Council, Gods Love We Deliver and the United Nations Population Fund's Face-to-Face Campaign, Miss Universe is armed to impact women today.





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