Miss Colombia Crowned Miss Universe, With Miss USA as Runner-Up

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MIAMI — Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega, was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday night, while Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, came in second. The other finalists, chosen from among 88 contestants, were Miss Jamaica, Kaci Fennell; Miss Ukraine, Diana Harkusha; and Miss Netherlands, Yasmin Verheijen.

Vega, of Barranquilla, Colombia, granddaughter of the legendary tenor Gastón Vega, said the contests leading to MIss Universe were the first she'd participated in and would be her last as she's eager to return to her studies in business administration.

Sanchez, 24, of Las Vegas, has a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has traveled the country teaching others. She spoke in the competition about equipping women to defend themselves against crime. "It's just something that's so prevalent in our society and why not empower women to take control of a dangerous situation into their own hand," she said.

TODAY anchor Natalie Morales hosted the show.

Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega, smiles after being crowned Miss Universe in Miami on Sunday.Andrew Innerarity / Reuters

— The Associated Press