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December 21st, 2012
10:48 AM ET

First American Miss Universe in 15 years, Olivia Culpo says ‘the contest is meant to inspire other women’

For the first time in 15 years, an American has brought home the Miss Universe crown. Olivia Culpo, a self-described cellist-nerd from Rhode Island won the Miss Universe contest Wednesday night in Vegas. She beat 88 other contestants. Culpo was originally crowned Miss USA back in June. She joins “Starting Point” to discuss what it felt like to win and what she can expect with her new title.

On whether she could imagine entering her first beauty contest just last year and then foreseeing herself winning the Miss Universe crown Culpo says, “Absolutely not. I thought I was awful on stage. I had never done a pageant before. I decided to do it over the summer. I got my dress the night before. It was too short. There was a hole in the back of it and here I am today. I never would have guessed that this would be where I am today – Never.”

On the topic of criticism for participating in pageants and showcasing a swimsuit, Culpo says she thinks there is “so much more to it.” She says, “Swimsuit portion is confidence. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the greatest shape or if you’re in the best shape out of all the 89 contestants. It’s about feeling comfortable with yourself and being open to others.” She goes on to say, “everybody has things that they don’t like about their body so I think that there’s a lot to be said for girls who are confident enough to walk on stage.”

Culpo says the contest is meant to inspire other women. She adds, “It’s not all about beauty. It’s about brains and your ability to be open to the audience and open to others,” which she says feels is important as a woman in society.

Filed under: A little fun • Contest • Women's issues
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