1978 - 1992
Miss Universe 2009 competition is underway in the Caribbean state of Bahamas, with a record number of 84 contestants all hoping to be crowned the next Miss Universe.
This year’s number of participants is the highest since 2006 and ties the 1999 record.
Outgoing Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza from Venezuela will pass on the crown and title to her successor on August 30, 2009.
On Monday night, August 10 the beauty queens showcased their national costumes before the first round of judging took place this Sunday.
Rumours are making rounds in cyberspace that the judges will not only pick the top 15 from the preliminary round, but will allow an extra contestant into the semi-finals, who will be voted on by the people of the Bahamas through newspaper and SMS voting.
Along with its rival pageants — Miss World and Miss Earth — Miss Universe is one of the most publicised beauty pageants in the world.
The very precious crown valued at US$120,000 and made of 18K white and yellow gold, has eluded the African continent 55 times.
California clothing company Pacific Mills founded the contest in 1952.
Miss Universe Organisation, a New York-based partnership between NBC network and Donald Trump, currently runs the contest and has been doing so since 2002.
The Africa continent, which has been a regular participant in this global showpiece, can this year pin hopes on contestants from Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
The continent has only managed to win the crown on three occasions. All winners hailed from Southern Africa.
Margaret Gardiner earned South Africa’s first Miss Universe title in 1978 at Acapulco, Mexico. She was 18 years old that time.
Michelle McLean from Namibia was crowned the 41st Miss Universe 1992 at the event held in Bangkok, Thailand.
And in 1999 Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana became the first black beauty to win the contest held in Trinidad & Tobago.
The semi-finalists will not be announced until Sunday, August 23, when Miss Universe 2009 will be crowned.
The winner is assigned a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organisation, going overseas to spread messages about the control of diseases, peace, and public awareness of AIDS