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Thursday, 27 May, 1999, 05:16 GMT 06:16 UK
Miss Botswana takes the crown
Five Miss Universe finalists
This year's judges had to look for brains as well as beauty
A 19-year-old Botswanan woman, Mpule Kwelagobe, has won the 1999 Miss Universe beauty contest held in Trinidad and Tobago.

Ms Kwelagobe reacted with shock and then surprise when the result was announced.

Miss Botswana
A first for Mpule Kwelagobe and Botswana
It was the first time that Botswana had entered the competition.

She was one of 10 finalists chosen from a field of 84 contestants after parading in swimsuits and evening wear.

The two runners up were Miss Spain and Miss Philippines.

Mpule Kwelagobe, who said she wanted to continue her studies to become an electronics engineer, won after responding to a final question about whether Miss Universe should be allowed to keep her crown if she became pregnant.

"Personally, I think it should not in any way interrupt her duties. She should celebrate her femininity," she said - sparking an enthusiastic response from the audience.

There has been some controversy over the issue of pregnancy.

Miss Guam was sent home when it was discovered she was pregnant, and Miss Great Britain, Nicki Lane, 20, was stripped of her title when it was revealed that she had a child at the age of 14.

This year's winner walks away with a prize of $200,000 and the use of a luxury apartment in New York for her year's reign.

The event, which is estimated to have cost the host nation Trinidad and Tobago some $16m, was broadcast live to some 80 countries from a specially-converted hangar on a former US military base.

And in an attempt to give the show a more up-market feel, top US designers were involved in supplying outfits for some contestants.

Judges were also told to look for brains as well for beauty.

However, there were a series of mishaps before the final.

On Tuesday, officials were forced to move the site of the coronation ball after hundreds of protestors converged on the original venue after an electrician was killed while working on the event.

See also:

26 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Miss World goes PC?
10 Mar 99 | Middle East
Arab crowned Miss Israel
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