by Free Britney at . Comments

Following lots of important questions, crucial bikini poses and a dreadful live singing performance by Heidi Montag, Dayana Mendoza will formally cede her crown as the 2009 winner of the Miss Universe pageant is named on Sunday night.

Representing America will be Miss USA Kristen Dalton.

Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011

Contrary to popular belief, Carrie Prejean did not win the Miss USA pageant, Kristen Dalton did. Prejean finished second, then was later stripped of her crown as Miss California after flaking on her contract (and being stripped of her top).

Therefore it is Kristen Dalton, 22, hailing from the great state of North Carolina, who will be competing Sunday night at the Atlantis in the Bahamas.

She's a worthy competitor, to say the least ...

Can she become the first American winner of the Miss Universe title since 1997? The odds are slim, if only because more than 90 girls competing, as Donald Trump (who bought the Miss Universe Organization in 1996) mentioned on The Late Show.

Either way, she'll give it a good run. Click to enlarge more photos of the beautiful Miss USA title-holder and Carrie Prejean conqueror, Kristen Dalton ...

by Free Britney at . Comments

An 18-year-old from Puerto Rico, who hopes to someday star in U.S. and Latin American films, was crowned Sunday night as Miss Universe 2006.

Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza shared a tear-filled, emotional hug with runner-up, Kurara Chibana of Japan, moments before the winner was announced. Upon hearing that she won it all, Rivera held her hands to her mouth in amazement.

Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011

Then, of course, she fainted.

Fortunately, Miss Universe did not miss much, quickly recovering after being given liquids, according to Miss Universe spokeswoman Esther Swan. Rivera, who was wearing a dress made entirely of metal chains, had been standing under hot stage lights for some time when she began to topple over. Someone caught her as she fell.

"I always had faith and confidence in myself, but I never knew I was going to win," Rivera, speaking in Spanish from the stage, said.

Rivera hails from the coastal town of Salinas. She says she will continue the pageant's mission of promoting awareness and education about AIDS and HIV.

"I want to tell those people there's always problems in life, but there's always possibilities to improve things," she said.

Miss USA Tara Conner, who was vying to become the first U.S. winner since Brook Lee in 1997, was the contest's fourth runner-up. Also finishing in the top five were second runner-up Lauriane Gillieron of Switzerland and third runner-up Lourdes Arevalos of Paraguay.

The Gossip's verdict on Ms. Rivera Mendoza? Not bad, although we aren't exactly sure why Heidi Klum and/or Molly Sims were not among the participants. Shame.

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