Miss Venezuela Dayana Mendoza, a former kidnapping victim, has beaten 79 of the world's most beautiful women to be crowned Miss Universe 2008.
Mendoza, 22, was once kidnapped in her homeland and she told reporters that experience taught her to keep cool under pressure, news agency Associated Press reported.
She told the Miss Universe website: "I was once kidnapped in what in my country is known as an express kidnapping. It was a very hard experience.
"I learned to remain calm in a very stressful situation and to try to reach to the human part of our abductors."
Mendoza, who had been the favourite of many pageant watchers and online bookmakers, clinched the diamond-studded gold crown after answering a question on the difference between men and women.
"Men think that the fastest way to go to a point is to go straight," explained the trilingual beauty from Amazonas state. "Women know that the faster way to go to a point is to go to the curves." she
The pageant was held in the seaside town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, and was hosted by Spice Girl Mel B and talk show host Jerry Springer.
It was marked by a bad fall by Miss USA Crystle Stewart, who tripped and fell during the evening gown section of the competition.
The 15 semi-finalists named at the beginning of the show were from Venezuela, Kosovo, Mexico, Vietnam, South Africa, Australia, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Colombia, Russia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the United States and Spain.