Miss Universe Paulina Vega: 'When I Won the Crown, It Was Like Winning the World Cup!'
The moment Paulina Vega was crowned, her life changed instantly. The 22-year-old beauty beat out 88 women for the 2014 title of Miss Universe, making her the second Miss Colombia contestant since 1958 to win the crown.
Surprisingly, this was Vega’s first attempt at competing in the Miss Universe pageant system, and from the looks of it, she was destined to win.
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“When I was a child, I saw [my grandmother’s] crown and played with the crown — she was Miss Atlántico sixty years ago!” gushed Vega about grandmother Elvira Susana Castillo Gómez, who once placed fourth in the Miss Colombia pageant and was also in the audience during Vega's victory. "Of course she had a lot of influence, and she supported me with the whole experience.”
Although Vega appeared very confident on stage, she revealed that one of her most nerve-racking moments came during the question-and-answer phase when judge Rob Dyrdek asked "What could women learn from men?"
“I was nervous at the first question because I had no idea how to respond,” she chuckled. “But then I calmed down for the second question and everything was better. As for the last phase, when we were in the top five with Gavin DeGraw, the song was perfect, with the fire, the vibe, the environment — everything! I had fun and was just living in the moment.”
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But Vega wasn’t the only one nervous that night. Fashion designer and TV personality Kristin Cavallari told Fox News Magazine she was feeling a bit shaky to be judging the pageant. “I just wanted to make sure I took everything into consideration and that I was picking the best girl. I was really nervous and anxious before they announced the winner!” said the former star of MTV’s “The Hills." “I was looking for someone that was obviously beautiful, but I wanted a girl who was enjoying herself and had a spark behind her eyes. Miss Universe is a girl with the 'it' factor."
Her home country thought so too. According to Vega, her hometown erupted with cheers upon hearing the results.“When I won the crown, it was like winning the World Cup! People were in the streets — it felt like a Carnival and it was chaotic!" she said. "Colombia really loves the Miss Universe pageants!”
Colombian pop singer, Shakira, even took to Twitter to congratulate Vega on her win, writing "Felicidades a Paulina Vega! Barranquilla celebra contigo!" (which roughly translates to "Congratulations to Paulina Vega! Barranquilla [Vega and Shakira's place of birth] welcomes you!")
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With only a week since her crowning, Vega is already looking forward to residing in New York City at Trump Towers for one year. She spoke enthusiastically about traveling all over the world and having the opportunity to inspire young girls to look beyond beauty and focus on the importance hard work, intelligence and community service.
Vega, a business student, also admits to coming to the United States and immediately falling in love with one particular item: “I am obsessed with Starbucks! In Colombia we only have one or two Starbucks. Here, you can find a Starbucks at every corner!” Furthermore, fans might be surprised to learn which coffee she picked as her favorite between Colombian and Starbucks: “Oh, I’m so sorry for Colombian coffee,” she joked.
“What I also like about the United States is the food," she added. "I love junk food! Eating burgers and pizza everyday — I love eating big packages of candy!”
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With an exciting reign to look forward to, Vega seems prepared to handle whatever comes her way, leaving an impeccable impression on everyone she meets. She has a radiant smile and a stunning physique. She's smart and she's got a wicked sense of humor. She's passionate and inspirational. And at 22, Paulina Vega is our new Miss Universe.
Scroll down for more photos of Vega's highlights during the pageant.