23 agosto 2009

Townsville's Rachael Finch shortens to Miss Universe favourite

MISS Australia Rachael Finch's odds have shortened from $7.50 to $3.20 in three days as the Townsville beauty continues to firm as favourite to win the Miss Universe crown tomorrow.

She has kept her Townsville twang and even divulged a foot-washing fetish, but bookies still consider her a sure thing.

As history has shown, however, it could all come undone with a misplaced step or a tough interview question.

Miss California Carrie Prejean was favourite to represent the US at this year's Miss Universe contest until she was thrown a tough question about gay marriage and came out against it during the US finals.

In 1993, then Miss USA Kenya Moore slipped and fell during the evening gown competition.

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In 2008, questions put to the top 5 included:

* If you could go back in time and change a moment in your life, what would it be?

* Do you believe men or women have it easier in life, and why?

* What's the biggest sacrifice you've ever had to make, and how did you handle it?

* When is a woman truly satisfied?

* Is there still discrimination against women? What can be done about it?

Finch told The Sunday Mail that she had been keeping up with current events to help her avoid coming unstuck.

But, win or lose, Finch is tipped to be worth at least $10 million following her stint in the Bahamas for the Miss Universe pageant final.

She has already signed on to be part of Celebrity Masterchef Australia.

Lingerie powerhouse Victoria's Secret, which helped boost fellow Aussie, Brisbane girl Miranda Kerr into the global spotlight, is said to be among the international companies lining up for her.

She has declined to talk about what offers she has received, but a manager associated with the Miss Universe Australia franchise, Grant Dwyer, said he was getting dozens of approaches a day from companies representing everything from cosmetics to racing.

Dwyer said publicity surrounding Finch in the lead-up to the Miss Universe finals would be worth up to $20 million.

He said he expected her earnings would continue to rise if she won the final.

"She has already exceeded our expectations," Dwyer said.

"We've been getting a number (of offers) coming in each day."

Dwyer would not reveal who had been chasing Finch, but he said some of the approaches included:

* An offer to be the face of a high-profile Australian-based cosmetics company.

* An offer to be the face of a major Australian racing carnival.

* An offer to be a celebrity reporter at a major international film festival.

"The sky's the limit," he said.

Dwyer said that, within a month of being crowned Miss Universe in 2004, Jennifer Hawkins was offered more than $8 million in contracts.

Finch's offers are expected to top that figure.

She is already the face of the Lonsdale spring and summer campaign and Dwyer expected she would reach her goals of becoming a television presenter and Hollywood actress.

Meanwhile, if she doesn't win, Finch is expected to return home and continue an ugly battle to fix a contract between her and Miss Universe Australia national director Deborah Miller.

Negotiations came to a head when a letter Finch has penned to Donald Trump - in which she described the contract as a 'prison sentence' - was leaked to the media.

Under pageant rules, that contract would be null and void on Finch being crowned Miss Universe.

If Finch doesn't win, Miller will be entitled to 20 per cent of everything Finch earns.

A clause in the contract stipulates that, once it is terminated, Miller will still be entitled to a commission on any contracts signed during her time as manager.

Finch's lawyer, Judith Strong, declined to comment on the legal battle.

Miller is undertaking negotiations with the Miss Universe organisation to extend her national director contract.


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