Crowned amid controversy
ÒåêñòOn Sept. 23, 2002, the pageant world was set on its ear with the announcement that Justine Pasek of Panama was the new Miss Universe. Oxana Fedorova of Russia, who had won the title the previous May, was suddenly a former queen. The circumstances were disputed. Pageant officials said Ms. Fedorova had been fired for violating her contract, and news leaks indicated she might even be married and pregnant. She denied these rumors and insisted she had left willingly.
Ms. Pasek, 22, is the first Miss Universe ever to ascend to the throne under such circumstances. Her full name is Justine Lissette Pasek Pati, and she is the first Panamanian to wear the prestigious crown.
Oxana Fedorova of Russia was crowned Miss Universe 2002 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on May 29, 2002. Ms. Fedorova, who placed first in the swimsuit competition, is the first Miss Universe from her vast nation, which was kept out of the pageant world until the late 1980s.
The first runner-up was Justine Pasek of Panama, and the second runner-up was Ling Zhuo, the first woman ever to represent mainland China at Miss Universe. The third runner-up was Vanessa Carreira of South Africa, and the fourth runner-up was Cynthia Lander Zamora of Venezuela.
Other semifinalists were Anisa Kospiri of Albania, Neha Dhupia of India, Neelam Verma of Canada, Demetra Eleftheriou of Cyprus and Natascha Borger of Germany.
Isis Marie Casalduc of Puerto Rico won the Photogenic award through an online vote of pageant fans. Merlisa Rhonda George of the U.S. Virgin Islands was chosen Miss Congeniality by a vote of her fellow contestants. Monday 23d September 2002
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