Miss Venezuela Crowned Miss Universe 2008

Miss Venezuela Dayana Mendoza was crowned Miss Universe 2008 on Sunday evening in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

The 22-year-old Miss Venezuela beat out three other Latinas for the title—Miss Colombia Taliana Vargas, who won first runner-up, as well as Miss Dominican Republic and Miss Mexico, who came in third and fifth, respectively. Miss Russia rounded out the top five in the fourth runner-up spot.

"Actually, God made men and women different. But the big difference between women and men—it doesn't matter what kind of life they live—is that men think that the faster way to go to a point is to go straight. Women, no. The faster way to go to a point is to go through curves and fixing every curve," Miss Venezuela answered international judge Louis Lacari during the question and answer portion of the competition.

Miss Venezuela, who is into interior design and learning new languages, was a favorite with the crowd. She wore a beautiful yellow night gown when given the 18K white and yellow gold crown, which was valued at $120,000, by Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori of Japan.

Another Latina, Rebeca Moreno of El Salvador, won the Miss Congeniality prize and the Best National Costume award was handed to Miss Thailand Gavintra Photijak.

Congratulations to all of the winners, and especially to the Latinas who represented so many sides of our culture!