SUN CITY, South Africa – An 18-year-old Nigerian who aspires to careers in both modeling and computers was crowned Miss World Friday, the first African to hold the title.
Wearing a lime green body hugging gown, Agbani Darego waved to a cheering crowd as she walked to a zebra skin lined throne in Sun City, a glitzy resort in the heart of South Africa's bush country.
Darego, her hair piled into a top knot, said that as a young girl when she looked in the mirror she saw someone "who wants to be a computer scientist as well as a super model."
Organizers claimed a billion people were expected to have watched the televised pagean, hosted by U.S. talk show host Jerry Springer.
The event is widely popular in India, which has produced several past winners including Miss World 2000 Priyanka Chopra.
Miss Aruba, 19-year-old Zerelda Lee, won first-runner up and Miss Scotland, Juliet-Jane Horne, 18, won second-runner up.
Springer began the show by acknowledging the Sept. 11 attacks on America and said he hoped the contest could stand as an example of nations cooperating with one another.
Once the target of feminist protests, the pageant markets itself as a socially conscious contest that helps children's causes.
The contestants pointed out their ambitions lie beyond careers in modeling and the movies.
Afdalgiza Alexandre da Rocha Gonsalves, 21, represents Angola and says she works with war orphans. Miss Antigua, 23-year-old Jannelle Williams, a math and chemistry lecturer, runs a dance workshop for children.