12 Beauty Queens Who Stole Millions of Hearts and What They Look Like Today

11 months ago

Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing countless aspiring women ascend to the coveted status of beauty queens. Among the most illustrious of these competitions is the renowned Miss Universe pageant, which, throughout its storied history, has proudly bestowed the title upon over 60 exceptional women. It’s truly awe-inspiring to contemplate the vast sea of talent and ambition that has graced this stage, with thousands of contestants from diverse backgrounds showcasing their unique charms and talents.

What’s truly astounding is that, even after the spotlight of the pageant has faded, a significant number of these beauty queens continue to shine brightly in the entertainment and fashion industries. Their enduring success is a testament to their indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication to their craft. They serve as inspiring role models for countless young women who dream of following in their footsteps, demonstrating that beauty, intelligence, and determination can indeed coexist harmoniously.

1. Gal Gadot

With a mix of uncertainty and curiosity, Gadot found herself thrust into the world of beauty pageants. She didn’t enter with the determination to win; in fact, she saw it as a way to pass the time before embarking on her military service. Little did she know that this seemingly casual decision would soon propel her into the limelight.

The outcome of the pageant took even Gadot by surprise. Against her own expectations and without actively seeking the title, she emerged victorious, being crowned Miss Israel. It was a moment that would alter the course of her life forever.

2. Zuleyka Rivera

Zuleyka Rivera’s path to becoming Miss Universe 2006 was a whirlwind of challenges and triumphs. One of the most memorable moments from her journey was the unique dress she wore during the competition — a breathtaking but incredibly heavy gown made of metal chains. This stunning attire, while visually captivating, posed a physical challenge for Rivera as it made it difficult for her to breathe under its weight.

As the fifth Miss Universe winner hailing from Puerto Rico, Zuleyka Rivera proudly identified herself as a “boricua” throughout the competition. She used this platform to passionately advocate for Puerto Rico’s distinct identity and its separate status from the United States, showcasing her commitment to her homeland.

3. Priyanka Chopra

In the year 2000, the world witnessed the rise of a new star in the form of Priyanka Chopra, who clinched the coveted title of Miss World. Little did anyone know that this victory would mark the beginning of an illustrious career that transcended borders and catapulted her to international fame.

However, it’s worth noting that not everyone agreed that the Miss World 2000 competition was entirely fair. Leilani McConney, who held the title of Miss Barbados 2000, alleged that there was favoritism displayed towards Priyanka Chopra during the pageant. McConney claimed that Chopra received special treatment in terms of attire and press calls, sparking debates and discussions about the pageant’s integrity.

Today, Priyanka Chopra stands as a symbol of determination, talent, and ambition. Her journey from a Miss World titleholder to a global superstar is a testament to her unwavering commitment to her craft. Whether in India or Hollywood, she continues to inspire and make waves in the world of entertainment, proving that dreams, once realized, can indeed transcend boundaries and create a lasting legacy.

4. Aiswarya Rai

Aishwarya’s victory wasn’t solely a result of her captivating beauty; it was a testament to her intelligence and the heartfelt sentiments she shared during the pageant’s final question round. When posed with the pivotal inquiry about the qualities a Miss World should embody, her response resonated deeply with the judges and the audience alike.

Her eloquent answer transcended mere words. Aishwarya emphasized the importance of compassion, urging the world to look beyond the barriers of nationality and color. She eloquently advocated for being a true and authentic person, a message that touched the hearts of many. It was this sincerity and wisdom that played a pivotal role in securing her the Miss World 1994 crown.

5. Olivia Culpo

Olivia Culpo’s journey to stardom is a testament to seizing unexpected opportunities. With no initial dreams of pageantry, she surprised many by entering the Miss Rhode Island contest in 2012. Against her parents’ initial disapproval, Olivia not only won the local title but went on to secure the titles of Miss USA and, finally, Miss Universe. She became the first American to claim the Miss Universe crown since 1997.

Beyond the pageant world, Olivia Culpo’s star continued to rise. She diversified her talents, branching out into modeling, acting, TV presenting, and business ventures. As an influencer and reality TV star, she’s garnered a massive following, but what sets her apart is her commitment to authenticity. Olivia strives to be known for who she truly is, rather than just the carefully curated persona often seen on social media. Her story serves as an inspiration for aspiring individuals looking to break boundaries and follow their own unique paths.

6. Alicia Machado

Alicia Machado’s star reached its zenith when she graced the stage at the Miss Universe 1996 competition in Las Vegas. There, she dazzled judges and spectators alike with her beauty, charisma, and intelligence. Her exceptional qualities captured the hearts of many, leading to her being crowned Miss Universe 1996.

In doing so, Alicia Machado not only made herself proud but also added another jewel to Venezuela’s already glittering pageant history. She became the fourth woman from this South American nation to hold the prestigious title of Miss Universe. Her triumph continues to inspire generations of aspiring beauty queens and serves as a testament to the beauty and grace that Venezuela has contributed to the world stage.

7. Sushmita Sen

At just 19 years old, Sushmita fearlessly entered the Miss India contest, facing stiff competition, including the favorite, Aishwarya Rai. She represented India on the global stage at the Miss Universe pageant in Manila, Philippines. It was here, in the final round of the contest, that Sushmita’s eloquence and grace stole the show. Her heartfelt answer captured millions of hearts and secured her the Miss Universe crown.

Sushmita Sen’s battle with Addison’s disease is a testament to her unwavering determination and resilience. In the face of a daunting diagnosis in 2014, she openly shared her four-year struggle with the autoimmune condition, describing the toll it took on her body and spirit. Yet, Sushmita refused to be defeated. Turning to Nunchaku workout training, she transformed her pain into strength, focusing on both physical and mental well-being. Her story serves as an inspiring example of triumph over adversity, as by 2019, she had not only healed but also freed herself from steroids and the grip of Addison’s disease.

8. Pia Wurtzbach

In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Pia discussed the pressure she felt before the competition and the sacrifices she made to pursue her dream. She emphasized the significance of the Miss Universe title to her family and the people of the Philippines, symbolizing hope and inspiration.

Beyond her Miss Universe duties, Pia is enjoying her life in New York City. She shares an apartment with Miss USA Olivia Jordan, and despite their busy schedules, they’ve become close friends. While she loves New York, Pia still considers the Philippines her home and hopes to own property in Manila and England, where her family resides.

9. Angela Ponce

Angela Ponce, a trailblazing transgender woman hailing from Spain, etched her name in history as the first-ever transgender contestant in the prestigious Miss Universe pageant. While she may not have taken home the crown, Angela’s courageous journey shattered barriers and stands as an inspiration to countless others.

Her path to the Miss Universe stage was not without its challenges. Angela faced discrimination during her modeling career, but through it all, she found unwavering support from her loving family. Their encouragement and her indomitable spirit propelled her to this groundbreaking moment.

10. Lynda Carter

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Carter’s early career was anchored in music. Her enchanting voice and stage presence set her on the path to stardom. However, it was her stunning beauty that led her to win the coveted Miss World USA pageant in 1972. This victory paved the way for her to represent the United States on the global stage at the Miss World pageant.

Yet, it was not just her beauty that made her a household name. Lynda Carter’s portrayal of Wonder Woman on the small screen catapulted her to stardom. Her embodiment of the iconic superhero not only resonated with audiences but also solidified her place in pop culture history. To this day, she remains closely associated with the character, with many considering her the definitive Wonder Woman.

Beyond her superhero persona, Carter has had a diverse career in music, making her a true entertainer in every sense. Her talents have graced various TV shows and movies, adding depth and versatility to her resume. Her enduring popularity is a testament to her timeless charm and talent.

11. Lara Dutta

In the grand finale of the Miss Universe contest, Dutta faced a unique challenge. Protesters outside the venue believed that such pageants were disrespectful to women. When asked to address this issue, Lara Dutta responded with unwavering confidence. She explained that pageants like Miss Universe provide an invaluable platform for young women to pursue their dreams and express their opinions. This, she argued, fosters strength and independence among them. Her articulate response left a lasting impression on the judges, leading to her coronation as Miss Universe 2000.

This victory marked the beginning of a remarkable journey in the world of entertainment. Lara Dutta ventured into Bollywood, where her acting skills and charm quickly made her a favorite among audiences. She enthralled viewers with her performances in numerous films and, in 2020, made a triumphant return with the web-series Hundred.

12. Ksenia Sukhinova

In 2008, Ksenia Sukhinova etched her name into the annals of beauty pageant history by being crowned Miss World. This remarkable achievement made her the second woman from her country to claim the coveted title. But her story begins even before this momentous win.

Beyond her academic and modeling pursuits, Sukhinova is a fervent sports enthusiast. Calisthenics, swimming, and biathlon are among her favorite activities. Her dedication to an active lifestyle not only keeps her fit but also inspires many of her admirers to embrace a healthy way of life. As for her literary tastes, Ksenia Sukhinova has a penchant for the classics. Her favorite book, “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov, showcases her appreciation for the arts and the power of storytelling.

In 2022, Sukhinova took on a new role in life as a mother when she gave birth to her son, Artem. This marked a beautiful chapter in her life, adding a new layer to her already impressive story.

The legacy of the Miss Universe pageant is a testament to the remarkable journey of countless women who have graced its stage. Over the years, we’ve watched in awe as these aspiring individuals from diverse backgrounds rose to the coveted status of beauty queens. With over 60 exceptional women holding the title, the pageant’s rich history stands as a symbol of talent, ambition, and determination.

What’s truly remarkable is that the brilliance of these beauty queens doesn’t dim after the pageant’s spotlight fades. Many of them continue to shine brightly in the realms of entertainment and fashion, showcasing their enduring success. Their unwavering dedication and indomitable spirit serve as an inspiration to aspiring young women worldwide. These beauty queens demonstrate that beauty, intelligence, and determination can indeed coexist harmoniously, setting an example for generations to come.


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