Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo, 21, of Rhode Island, will end her reign and relinquish her crown on November 9, 2013 at the Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast, Russia. “At this point I’m so exhausted, I’ll say I need at least a month at home,” stated Culpo in an interview with The Providence Journal. Her win as Miss Universe marked 15 years since a contestant from the U.S. had won the crown. Brooke Lee won it in 1997.
Miss Universe began her journey as a sophomore at Boston University. After winning the Miss USA pageant, she went on to compete in the 2012 Miss Universe pageant. Culpo has traveled the globe in the ensuing year doing charity functions and promotional appearances as a result of her win.
One of Culpo’s primary duties as Miss Universe is to serve as a spokesperson for HIV/AIDS Awareness. She is an advocate for such organizations as Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, God’s Love We Deliver and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC).
Her reign has also been dotted with controversy. Culpo is currently under investigation by the Indian police for an October 2013 “unauthorized” photo shoot at the Taj Mahal. It featured Miss Universe wearing one sandal and holding the other while sitting on the Diana seat (Diana, Princess of Wales sat on that bench for what became an iconic photo) on the Taj Mahal lawn. It is regarded as a banned commercial use of the site and it is highly offensive in the Indian culture to wear shoes at the monument. She and others in her party are being accused of running afoul of India’s Heritage Act.
Culpo stated that she didn’t want to do the shoot in subsequent interviews and said, “Honestly, I did at one point say out loud, ‘Isn’t this a little inappropriate?'” She and the others charged face two years in jail and a fine of $1,600 if found guilty.
The other controversy of Culpo’s reign came upon being crowned in June of 2012. Miss Pennsylvania, Sheena Monnin, charged that the competition was fixed. Monnin stated that the final five contests were selected before the pageant on NBC’s Today show and her Facebook page. She resigned her title of Miss Pennsylvania in protest. A judge later ruled that her claims were unfounded and she was ordered to pay a $5 million fine for defamation to the Miss USA organization.
Despite these challenges, Culpo feels she will always be grateful for her time as Miss Universe. “I’m sure I’ll be grateful for the experience in ways I can’t even fathom at this point because I’m still living it,” said Culpo. The beauty queen plans to finish her education and pursue a career as an actress.
Miss Universe received her crown in Las Vegas and will be relinquishing it in Moscow. This will be the first time that Russia has hosted the Miss Universe pageant, with 88 contestants from countries all over the world being represented this year. The preliminary parties and events have already begun and will be continuing throughout the week.
By J.S. Brinkley