Miss Universe Winners Who Look A Lot Different Today

In 1952, the very first Miss Universe — Armi Kuusela of Finland — was crowned. Three years later, the competition, which was hosted by John Daly, was televised for the first time. Bob Barker took over as host in 1966, and, after a long run, he left the show in 1987. Various hosts, including Alan Thicke and Dick Clark, even gave it a go in the subsequent years. In 1996, eventual president Donald Trump took over as co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, which he eventually sold in 2015.


Since Miss Universe's inception in the 1950s, it's not just the hosts and owners who've changed; the competition's rules have also evolved. At its core, however, it has remained much the same. Contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 28, unmarried, and without children. Once a winner is crowned, she is given "a platform for possibility based on her objectives for the year," the official site explains. "Alongside the Miss Universe Organization, she will plan how to achieve her goals on the national and global scale." But what happens to the winners after their year is up? Here's a look into the lives of former Miss Universes.

Miss Universe 1977: Janelle Commissiong

When Janelle Commissiong was born in 1953, the Miss Universe competition was only just getting off the ground. By the time she would enter though, the competition was in its 25th year. Commissiong had recently finished studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City when she decided to participate in the Miss Universe competition. Although she was not favored to win, Commissiong took home the crown and, in doing so, became the first black woman — and the first woman from the Caribbean — to win. 


Commissiong used her platform to advocate for black rights in countries around the world. The year after her big win, she married Brian Bowen, the founder of a Trinidadian boat company. Sadly, Commissiong's husband would pass away in an unfortunate accident. Later, she met and married businessman Alwin Chow, and together they adopted a daughter named Sasha.

The Miss Universe Organization asserts that Commissiong is still "seen as an icon in her native Trinidad and Tobago." And although she was awarded the Miss Universe sash over four decades ago, the Port of Spain City Corporation renamed a street in her honor in 2017.

Miss Universe 1989: Angela Visser

Angela Visser was "the virtually unanimous choice for Miss Universe 1989," according to the organization. The year following her win, the Dutch star was invited to stay on not as a contestant, but as a color commentator. Visser held the job for several years, before leaving in 1994. However, Visser didn't leave the small screen. The 1989 Miss Universe winner went on to pursue acting. During her Hollywood career, she was featured in a few episodes of some very popular TV shows of the '90s, such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Baywatch, Boy Meets World, and even Friends


In 1997, Visser landed her longest-running role as Ms. Gabrielle Dupree in the TV series USA High. When the show ended in 1999, the Holland-born star didn't return to acting, aside from lending her voice for the video game Medal of Honor: Frontline in 2002. Two years later, the star welcomed a child, Amelie, and, as of February 2019, she was busy raising a teenager alongside her partner Phil Missig. She's since given up her phenomenal '80s hair, but alas, when it's time, it's time.

Miss Universe 1990: Mona Grudt

In 1990, Mona Grudt became the first-ever Norwegian woman to be crowned Miss Universe. Similar to the previous year's winner, Grudt also pursued a career in acting. She appeared in an episode of Santa Barbara as well as in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Grudt also made appearances on several Norwegian television series. Although her acting career was short-lived, Grudt has since become the editor of a Norwegian wedding magazine called Ditt Bryllup, or "Your Wedding," when translated into English. Grudt also became a host on the 2011 season of Norway's Next Top Model


Much like Miss Universe 1989, Angela Visser, Grudt has traded in her big hair for a sleeker 'do. Additionally, she said goodbye to her bold makeup and embraced a more minimalist look. She's also apparently managed to find that elusive Fountain of Youth, which, of course, must be in Norway. And, if the star's social media presence is any indication, Grudt's life has only gotten more incredible since being on top of the Universe.

Miss Universe 1993: Dayanara Torres

Three years after Mona Grudt was announced Miss Universe, Dayanara Torres was given the crown. During her year-long reign, Torres became a UNICEF ambassador. She also created her own eponymous foundation, which helped provide low-income students throughout the Philippines and Puerto Rico obtain scholarships. In 2000, Torres said "I do" to singer Marc Anthony. Although the couple divorced just four years later, during their marriage, they welcomed two sons, Cristian and Ryan.


In an interview with People en Espanõl in 2017, the former Miss Universe revealed that she was finally ready to focus on her career once again now that her kids were both teenagers. Though you'd never believe Torres was even old enough to have teenagers...

Sadly on Feb. 4, 2019 — World Cancer Day — Torres took to Instagram to reveal that she'd recently been diagnosed with melanoma, one of the most serious forms of skin cancer. The star revealed that the cancer had spread to two lymph nodes, which were removed, and that she would be awaiting further treatment.

Miss Universe 1994: Sushmita Sen

In 1994, Sushmita Sen became the first Indian woman to be crowned Miss Universe. After Sen's historic win, her celebrity status only continued to grow — mainly because she became a beloved Bollywood star. Miss Universe 1994 also went on to adopt two daughters and, in 2013, she was awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice. "What an overwhelming feeling to receive an award named after 'Mother' and with past recipients like his holiness Dalai Lama and Malala Yousafzai," the star tweeted at the time (via Indian Express).


Sen has changed up her look since the mid '90s — because, really, who hasn't? — but we won't say she's still beautiful. In an Instagram post (via Hindustan Times), Sen revealed that she often hears that she's "still beautiful," but she believes "beauty only grows [and] glows where there is life." She continued, "'She's beautiful' is enough." She's not wrong.

Miss Universe 1996: Alicia Machado

When the crown was passed to Alicia Machado, she became the fourth person of Venezuelan descent to win the pageant. And, while there's no talent portion of the Miss Universe competitions, she would've definitely had quite the skill to demonstrate: dancing. Some sixteen years after competing for the title of Miss Universe, Machado placed third in Univision's Mira Quién Baila, a television show and dance competition not all that dissimilar to ABC's Dancing with the Stars


Although Machado has had a successful career post-Miss Universe, she revealed that it hasn't always been easy. "I was the first Miss Universe after Trump bought the pageant," she said in a campaign for Hillary Clinton. After being crowned, she started to gain weight — which was something she said Donald Trump was not happy about. According to Machado, Trump called her "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeper." Machado also alleged that the former Miss Universe Organization owner threatened to strip her of her crown (via The Guardian). In the end, Machado kept her title, but she admitted that she struggled with eating disorders in subsequent years. Still, she revealed that she has become a "happy" and "very successful person."


Miss Universe 1981: Irene Saez

Irene Sáez winning the Miss Universe crown in 1981 was only the beginning. According to the Miss Universe Organization, she spent her reign traveling all over the globe. After which, she went on to attend the Central University of Venezuela, where she earned a degree in political science. She became a cultural representative to the United Nations for one year before becoming mayor of a municipality in Venezuela. Her career in politics continued, and, in 1998, she became governor of Nueva Esparta, a state of Venezuela. The year prior, the Miss Universe Organization awarded the 1981 winner with the Distinguished Achievement Award — another well-deserved win, to be sure.


According to property records obtained by The Real Deal, Irene Sáez and her husband, Serafín García, bought a gorgeous waterfront home for a whopping $7 million in late 2017. Clearly, it sounds like Sáez is living the good life.

Miss Universe 1998: Wendy Fitzwilliam

It wasn't until 1998 that another woman from Trinidad and Tobago would be crowned Miss Universe. Some 21 years after Janelle Commissiong took home the title, Wendy Fitzwilliam became the second-ever Miss Universe winner to hail from the Caribbean country. Fitzwilliam's win was also historic because she was actually the first woman ever to win while wearing a bikini in the swimsuit portion of the competition.


After earning her crown, Fitzwilliam started an HIV/AIDS charity called The Hibiscus Foundation. In the year following her win, she also worked with both UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS) and UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population Activities), becoming a Goodwill Ambassador due to the work she put in with the organizations. As of this writing, Fitzwilliam is a host and executive producer of Caribbean's Next Top Model. Her style has evolved since winning Miss Universe, but she might just be even more of a fashion icon these days. 

Miss Universe 2000: Lara Dutta

With the new millennium came a brand new Miss Universe. For only the second time in the pageant's history, an Indian woman was chosen. And, as of this writing, Lara Dutta is the last woman of Indian descent to have been crowned. In 2018, India Today reported that Dutta also "created a Miss Universe record that no one has broken yet." According to the publication, she earned the highest score "in the history of beauty pageant competitions." In fact, Dutta's final interview score was "the highest individual score in any category in the history of the Miss Universe contest." Um, wow. During her reign as Miss Universe, she, like Wendy Fitzwilliam, was named a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador. 


Dutta went on to become a Bollywood actress and, in 2011, she married Mahesh Bhupathi, whom she called her "best partner." In February 2019, the couple celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary. Miss Universe 2000 has embraced a more mature and regal look in recent years — and she absolutely slays.

Miss Universe 2002: Oxana Fedorova

In 2002, Russian-born Oxana Fedorova was crowned Miss Universe and, in 2002, Fedorova was also stripped of her crown. Although there were all kinds of rumors — like that she was pregnant, she was married, and she was dating Vladimir Putin (via Yahoo! Lifestyle) — her title was officially taken from her because she had been "failing in her duties" during her one-year reign, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report from the time. "The duties of a world beauty are wonderful. However, my prime goal is my studies and career in Russia," Fedorova revealed in an interview (via CBS News). "I know I will remain Miss Universe for Russian citizens and for myself."


In 2018, Yahoo! Lifestyle caught up with the dethroned Miss Universe and reported that she appeared to have "moved on from the controversy of her past." She has since become a fashion designer and launched her first fashion line in 2015. When she spoke with Yahoo!, she had recently created another collection of womenswear. 

Miss Universe 2003: Amelia Vega

In 2003, just one year after Oxana Fedorova was stripped of her crown, Amelia Vega became the next pageant winner. According to the Miss Universe Organization, Vega was "the first delegate from the Dominican Republic to win the title of Miss Universe." Unlike Fedorova, she would go on to fulfill her obligations. Throughout her year as Miss Universe, Vega often paid visits to the Dominican Republic. When asked how she stays so motivated, Vega revealed to Journalism News Network, "The only motivation truly is to feel good about yourself and feel confident with what you have and knowing that if you feel beautiful that's how people are going to look at you." A good motto, for sure.


In the years since being crowned, Vega hosted a Mexican reality show called Segunda Oportunidad. She also married basketball player Al Horford, with whom she has three adorable children. The former Miss Universe winner has also amassed an Instagram following of close to 1 million people and regularly shares updates about her life.

Miss Universe 2006: Zuleyka Rivera

Since Zuleyka Rivera won the title of Miss Universe 2006, her style has been constantly evolving. You might even have a hard time believing that 2006 Rivera and 2019 Rivera are the same person. Nevertheless, we promise you they are. After earning her crown, Rivera went on to become an actress.


In 2017, she was featured in the music video for singers Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito." The following year, she was invited to perform the song with Fonsi and Yankee for the 60th Grammy Awards. While some liked her performance, others called her appearance into question. "The dress was horrible and she looks really bad," one person tweeted (via People). "She is talented, beautiful, but why does she have to dress like a prostitute?" Ouch. Another chimed in with a similar critique: "That was supposed to be a performance for television, not for her own living room." Perhaps some people were expecting a squeaky clean pageant dress. But, hey — you do you, girl. You do you.

Miss Universe 2009: Stefania Fernandez

When Stefania Fernandez left home at just 16 years old, she started entering beauty pageants. In an interview with the Miss Universe Organization, Fernandez revealed that one judge told her that she would "never make it" — but that only gave her more motivation. She continued competing and eventually made it to the 2009 Miss Universe competition. And, perhaps to that one judge's surprise, she won. After taking the crown, Fernandez partnered with an array of charities and organizations, including God's Love We Deliver, Gay Men's Health Crisis, and Latino Commission on AIDS.


In January 2019, Fernandez took to Instagram to share side-by-side photos: one from the Miss Universe competition and one a more current photo of herself. "No matter the years, the important thing is to continue working on ourselves," the star wrote, when her caption was roughly translated to English. "Recognize and find our way without hurting anyone." Fernandez continued, writing, "To me this [ten-year] challenge made me look more attentively at that 19-year-old girl and she reminded me that she was not afraid to eat the world." No, we're not crying, you're crying!

Miss Universe 2012: Olivia Culpo

Rhode Island resident Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe in 2012. The last time a woman from the United States had won the competition was a whopping 15 years prior. As noted by the Associated Press, Culpo had won three pageants — Miss Rhode Island USA, Miss USA, and, of course, Miss Universe — in less than a year and a half. That's quite an accomplishment.


After her big and final win, Culpo began working as an ambassador for God's Love We Deliver and Youth AIDS & PSI, as well as other HIV and AIDS awareness-based charities. After winning, the Miss Universe Organization revealed that she also planned to use her platform "to pursue an entertainment career" — and that's just what she did. In fact, you may have noticed her in the Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty. In case you want to go back and watch it, she played the role of Hope.

Culpo has also become an accomplished model. In 2018, she posed for Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition — something she said she'd been "dying to do" — for a second time. She may have passed on her pageant girl crown, but she's definitely still a queen.