Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega, Crowned Miss Universe 2015

Miss Colombia Paulina Vega has been awarded the title of Miss Universe!

At Sunday’s pageant, which took place in Miami, the 22 year-old business administration student beat out first runner-up Miss USA Nia Sanchez and hopefuls from more than 80 other countries.

It’s no surprise that Vega, whose grandmother was a regional beauty queen, began modeling at the young age of 8.

Vega, who wore a slinky, sparkling silver evening gown in the finale of the competition, says she will wear the crown with “pride and excitement”. She also hopes the title will help her move forward in her career: “It gives me independence. I want to have my own company,” she said.

She also said she felt supported by the local Latino community in Miami. “It felt like home. I felt like I was in Colombia with my people. I felt that support in every moment of the pageant,” she said.

Vega also enjoyed support from Modern Family star Sofia Vergara, who also hails from Vega’s hometown of Barranquilla. On Twitter, Vergara wrote to her seven million followers: “Barranquilla!!!!! Miss Universe!!!!” Back in Colombia, supporters took to the streets to celebrate Vega’s big win.

As the winner of Miss Universe, Vega will receive an undisclosed salary, an upscale apartment in New York City, clothing, beauty products and a one-year scholarship from the New York Film Academy.

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Amanda Young