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Live blog and photos: Miss USA Olivia Culpo is crowned 2012 Miss Universe


Steve Marcus

Miss USA Olivia Culpo is crowned 2012 Miss Universe by 2011 Miss Universe Leila Lopes and 2012 Miss Teen USA Logan West during the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at PH Live in Planet Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012.

Updated Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 | 12:07 a.m.

2012 Miss Universe Pageant

Miss USA Wins 2012 Miss Universe

Miss USA Olivia Culpo, center, is surrounded by other contestants after being crowned Miss Universe during the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

2012 Miss USA Olivia Culpo Crowned 2012 Miss Universe

2012 Miss USA Olivia Culpo is crowned 2012 Miss Universe at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. 2012 Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon was the first runner-up. Launch slideshow »

SPOILER ALERT: The 2012 Miss Universe Pageant is live at 5 p.m. PT from PH Live in Planet Hollywood Las Vegas and airs tape delayed on the West Coast at 8 p.m. PT on NBC and Telemundo. Do NOT read this blog if you do not want to learn the winner before the telecast.

After nearly two weeks in Las Vegas, the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant is about to crown the successor to 2011 Miss Universe Leila Lopes of Angola in a field of 89 contestants at PH Live in Planet Hollywood.

This year’s hosts are Bravo’s Andy Cohen and E! Entertainment’s Giuliana Rancic, and 2012 Miss USA Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island represents the red, white and blue. Train and Timomatic are the musical guests.

Check out our 2012 Miss Universe Pageant section for more coverage, including this year’s judges and the contestants in swimwear and evening gowns and competing in the preliminaries.

I will be live blogging the pageant, and Robin Leach will be tweeting from the pageant at PH Live.

5 p.m.: Pageant owner Donald Trump is in a Santa Claus suit during a videotaped “Twelve Days of Christmas” pageant-style takeoff introduction! The 89 contestants are in short dresses as they are introduced in a winter wonderland. The song has switched from a pop rock version of “Winter Wonderland” to One Direction’s hit “Live Like We’re Young.” Um, Philippines is misspelled "Phillipines" during the introduction of the 89 contestants!

5:10 p.m.: Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic are introduced, Cohen in a tuxedo and Rancic in a floor-length black gown. Viewership: 1 billion in more than 90 countries. Jeannie Mai is introduced to offer commentary; the top of her gown is sparkly. Use #askmissuniverse.

5:16 p.m.: A video shows the contestants at Caesars Palace and in swimsuits. Now it’s the Top 15 semifinalists and fan-voted No. 16: 2012 Miss Venezuela Irene Esser, 2012 Miss Turkey Cagil Ozge Ozkul, 2012 Miss France Marie Payet, 2012 Miss Peru Nicole Faveron, 2012 Miss Russia Elizabeth Golovanova, 2012 Miss Mexico Karina Gonzalez, 2012 Miss Poland Marcelina Zawadzka, 2012 Miss Hungary Agnes Konkoly, 2012 Miss South Africa Melinda Bam, 2012 Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon, 2012 Miss Croatia Elizabeta Burg, 2012 Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus, 2012 Miss Kosovo Diana Avdiu (voted Miss Photogenic), 2012 Miss Australia Renae Ayris, 2012 Miss India Shilpa Singh and 2012 Miss USA Olivia Culpo.

5:24 p.m.: Now a videotape of the catwalk introduction of the 89 contestants when they arrived at Planet Hollywood this month.

5:30 p.m.: The judges are introduced: Diego Boneta from “Rock of Ages,” three-time Olympic volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings, Scott Disick of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” photographer Nigel Barker, stylist Brad Goreski, model, host and actress Claudia Jordan, San Francisco Giants star Pablo Sandoval, Lisa Vanderpump and her dog Giggy of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto and 2010 Miss Universe Ximena Navarrete.

5:33 p.m.: A videotape of 2011 Miss Universe Leila Lopes is played. Lopes introduces a videotape of the National Costumes Show.

5:40 p.m.: Check out the YouTube video of the red carpet by Richard Corey. Now swimsuits! All the contestants return onstage in bikinis and perform a routine to DJ Avicii’s “Levels.” Miss Venezuela is in a purple-and-white bikini. Miss Turkey is in a floral pastel bikini. At 5’11,’’ she is one of the tallest contestants. Miss France is wearing the same floral pastel bikini. Miss Peru is wearing a blue-and-purple bikini and bright red lipstick. Miss Russia is wearing the floral pastel bikini. Miss Mexico is wearing a blue-and-white bikini. Miss Poland is wearing the floral pastel bikini; it’s her first visit to the U.S. Miss Hungary is in a blue-and-white bikini and is very athletic.

Miss South Africa is wearing the floral pastel bikini. Miss Philippines, a crowd favorite, is in a blue-and-white bikini; she bought a house at age 22. Miss Croatia is in a blue, purple and red bikini; she once helped her father deliver a cow. Miss Brazil, in the floral pastel bikini, is buxom. Miss Kosovo is in a blue, purple and red bikini, the same as Croatia; she never gets nervous. Miss Australia is in a blue-and-white bikini; she volunteers for Operation Smile. Miss India is in the floral pastel bikini; she’s a trained dancer. And Miss USA, a crowd favorite, is in the blue, purple and red bikini; she is a spokeswoman for breast cancer awareness.

5:56 p.m.: The Top 16 becomes the Top 10. In no particular order, it’s Miss Australia Renae Ayris, Miss Russia Elizabeth Golovanova, Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus, Miss France Marie Payet, Miss Venezuela Irene Esser, Miss USA Olivia Culpo, Miss Hungary Agnes Konkoly, Miss South Africa Melinda Bam, Miss Mexico Karina Gonzalez and Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon.

2012 Miss Universe Pageant: Backstage

Donald Trump and new 2012 Miss Universe Olivia Culpo of the USA backstage at the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

2012 Miss Universe Pageant: Red Carpet Arrivals

Donald Trump arrives at the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

2012 Miss Universe Red Carpet/Richard Corey

2012 Miss Universe Pageant: Preliminaries

The preliminaries of the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant hosted by Chet Buchanan and 2011 Miss Universe Leila Lopes at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. Launch slideshow »

6:01 p.m.: Via videotape, Miss Australia says to be true to yourself. Miss Russia has a fear of flying. Miss Brazil is afraid of heights. Miss France loves music. Miss Venezuela starting surfing at age 11. Miss USA says she is very easygoing. “I can take anything; I’m a normal person.” Miss Hungary says sports are good for young women. Miss South Africa talks about her father’s passing at age 11. Miss Mexico and her sister talk in their sleep. And Miss Philippines talks about her people’s love of Miss Universe.

6:10 p.m.: It’s time for the evening gown competition. Rancic has changed gowns; she is now wearing a black-and-gray glittering gown. Train emerges with frontman Pat Monahan, in a black leather jacket and gray jeans, and performs “Drive By.” He’s a bit pitchy. Miss Australia is in a flowing white gown with a sweetheart neckline. Miss Russia is wearing royal blue with a high slit and a glittery bodice. Miss Brazil is in a va-va-voom embellished silver dress. Miss France is in flowing white. Miss Venezuela is wearing a green silk gown; it looks like a Christmas tree.

Train is back and performs “Mermaid.” Miss USA is in red; she recovers from a little trip and is sporting a lot of cleavage. Miss Hungary is wearing white. Miss South Africa is wearing a gown with gold leather eyelets. Miss Mexico is in red; it’s racy -- a swimsuit turned evening gown. And Miss Philippines is wearing light blue, another swimsuit turned evening gown. Train ends the evening gown competition with “Shake Up Christmas.” Mai names 2012 Miss Guatemala Laura Godoy Miss Congeniality; she receives $1,000.

6:24 p.m.: Via video, it’s Caesars Palace, Linq with Jon Gray, Bacchanal Buffet with executive chef Scott Green, Qua Baths and Spa, “Jubilee!” at Bally’s, Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris with Ramsay, Pure at Caesars and Gallery Nightclub at Planet Hollywood.

It’s the Top Five finalists: Miss Venezuela Irene Esser, Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon, Miss Australia Renae Ayris, Miss USA Olivia Culpo and Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus.

6:31 p.m.: Now it’s the most difficult competition of the night: the final question. Boneta asks Miss Venezuela what new law she would enact and why. She doesn’t really answer the question! Wow. Barker asks the Twitter question to Miss Philippines: Should Miss Universe be able to speak English? She says it’s not about language; it’s about influence and strength of character. Vanderpump asks Miss Australia about modeling and losing weight. She says she feels comfortable and would ignore weight remarks.

Navarrette asks Miss USA, who is rooming with Miss Australia, if she has a life regret. She says picking on her siblings. Walsh Jennings asks Miss Brazil if wearing a swimsuit reduces women to sexual objects? We can share our character in bikinis, too; it’s important to show everyone what’s inside and in our hearts, she says.

A moment of silence for the families in Newton, Conn.

6:42 p.m.: Timomatic, in all white, sings his dance hit “Set It Off” as the world receives a final look at the Top Five. The crowd goes crazy for Miss Philippines. They love Miss USA, too, who looks a little like a gorgeous Mrs. Santa Claus. Or the great-great-granddaughter of Santa Claus.

6:51 p.m.: The Top 10 National Costumes, from No. 10 to No. 1: Indonesia, Peru, Panama, British Virgin Islands, Nicaragua, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Netherlands, Mexico and China. Lopes makes her final walk in a glittering silver gown.

6:54 p.m.: The official results! The fourth runner-up is Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus; the third runner-up is Miss Australia Renae Ayris; the second runner-up is Miss Venezuela Irene Esser; and the first runner-up is Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon.

The 2012 Miss Universe is Miss USA Olivia Culpo!

7:44 p.m.: With 20-year-old Culpo being crowned the new Miss Universe, 2012 Miss USA runner-up Nana Meriwether of Maryland becomes the new 2012 Miss USA. Culpo is the first Miss Universe from the USA since 1997.

Robin Leach talked with Culpo’s parents after her coronation, and they said that in June, they were country bumpkins. Now six months later, they are pageant aficionados! They didn’t think that their daughter would win until she made the Top 10; then they knew that she had it in the bag.

Check back Thursday for our continuing coverage. And a big thank you to our team of photographers -- Tom Donoghue, Erik Kabik of Retna and Steve Marcus of the Las Vegas Sun -- for their fabulous photo galleries.

Don Chareunsy is editor of and senior editor, arts and entertainment, of

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at

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