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The island of Puerto Rico may be small geographically but Puerto Ricans know how to shine, and one sphere in which they have been standouts throughout the years, is beauty pageants. To date there have been two Miss World and five Miss Universe winners, making Puerto Rico the country with the third most Miss Universe queens. Get to know some of the fantastic women who have represented the island nation internationally by checking out the following guide.
In 1970 and at the age of 19, Marisol Malaret was the first woman from Puerto Rico to be crowned Miss Universe. It was a momentous occasion for the island, whose queens had never reached the semi-finals. Once her reign was over Malaret continued to work in entertainment, by hosting a television show, appearing on radio shows, and editing a magazine. She is still beloved in Puerto Rico.
Zuleyka Rivera was the fifth representative of Puerto Rico to win the Miss Universe crown, in 2006. After winning the competition, she has acted in soap operas, hosted her own television show and created her own swimsuit line, according to Miss Universe. Recently Rivera appeared in the music video for the international hit “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, which was filmed in Puerto Rico.
Desiree Lowry was a contestant in the 1995 Miss Universe competition and finished in the top five. She owns a modeling and refinement school in Puerto Rico and with businessman Luisito Vigoreaux, Lowry is in charge of the local Puerto Rican competition for Miss Universe.
Wilnelia Merced was the first Miss World winner from Puerto Rico, having been crowned in 1975 as an 18 year-old. She was the only Puerto Rican Miss World winner until 2016 when Stephanie del Valle won. Merced is still involved in the Puerto Rican branch of the Miss World competition and also does charity work. She is currently called Lady Wilnelia Forsyth, due to her husband’s title; he is British entertainment legend, Sir Bruce Forsyth.
Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quiñones was the fourth Puerto Rican contestant to win the crown. She also won Miss Photogenic. Quiñones studied at a two-year acting conservatory program after her time as Miss Universe, and has acted in various movies, including “Aquaman” and “La soga”. A beauty pageant pro, she was a coach on a Spanish-language reality television pageant a couple of years ago.
Miss Universe 1993, Dayanara Torres was the third Puerto Rican Miss Universe. After her reign, she enjoyed popularity in the Philippines where she worked and released two albums. She has modelled in magazines like Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan, hosted television shows and acted in movies such as “Linda Sara” and Hataw Na (Dance Now).
Known for her work as an actress in films like Rush Hour 2 and The Game Plan, many don’t know that Roselyn Sanchez has a beauty pageant past. According to IMDb, she won Miss America Petite 1994 after becoming Miss Puerto Rico Petite in 1993. She has also appeared on various television shows and released an album.
An up-and-coming model and actress, Mariana Vicente competed in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant. Her acting credits include the movies Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Self/less, and the television show American Horror Story. She’s based out of Los Angeles and New Orleans, and is actively going to auditions so you might see her on your screen soon.
The second Miss Universe from Puerto Rico, Deborah Carthy-Deu worked as an actress, television host and model internationally after finishing her reign. Crowned in 1985, she is an alumna of the University of Puerto Rico. In recent years Carthy-Deu has been a fashion correspondent for a television show in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico’s most recent big winner is Stephanie del Valle, who was crowned Miss World 2016. An emerging model, she is currently busy fulfilling her duties as Miss World and taking a break from her university studies. Del Valle won the competition at 19 years old, so expect big things from this beauty queen, who knows three languages and is just getting started.