Frenchwoman Iris Mittenaere has been crowned in the Philippines as the winner of the 65th Miss Universe pageant.
Miss Haiti, Raquel Pelissier, 25, was named first runner-up and Miss Colombia, Andrea Tovar, 23, was the second runner-up.
Mittenaere, a 24-year-old born in the northern French city of Lille, is pursuing a degree in dental surgery. She is only the second contestant from France to win the title in the past 64 years since Christiane Martel won in 1953.
“I’m very proud to bring this crown to Europe,” she said in a press conference after winning the title. “I think France and Europe really need a Miss Universe because there’s been a lot of time Europe (had) no Miss Universe.”
Australian entrant Caris Tiivel failed to make the top 13.
During the pageant in Manila, Mittenaere said countries had the right to close or open their borders to refugees but European countries like France had chosen to welcome refugees.
“Having open borders allows us to travel more to the world and to find out what’s out there in the world,” she said, in a reply that earned her a spot in the final three.
The new Miss Universe said after the competition that the question about the refugees was “a little bit difficult,” but she answered from her heart.
As the new Miss Universe, Mittenaere hopes to promote education for children and AIDS awareness, and also wants to encourage women to be confident in their own skin.
She was one of the 86 candidates who agreed to be photographed without makeup during the competition in the Philippines.