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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 00:21 GMT
India claims Miss World crown
Miss India flanked by runners-up Miss Italy (left) and Miss Turkey
Miss India flanked by runners-up Miss Italy (left) and Miss Turkey
Miss India, Priyanka Chopra, has won the Miss World beauty contest on its 50th anniversary at a glittering ceremony in London's Millennium Dome.

Miss Chopra, the bookmakers' favourite, beat 94 other contestants to claim the title - and $100,000 (70,000) in prize money - in front of an estimated global television audience of two billion people.

On India's second successive win, and fourth in seven years, an emotional Miss Chopra said: "It's good for my country, isn't it?"

Crowning Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra: Biggest influence? Mother Teresa
Second was Giorgia Palmas of Italy, with Yuksel Ak of Turkey third. Miss Kazakhstan and Miss Uruguay also made the final five.

Miss Chopra, an 18-year-old student, was crowned by last year's Miss World, Yukta Mookhey from Bombay.

Nowhere is the contest more popular than in India, where it pulls in about 96% of the country's available television audience.

Successful contestants have used it as a springboard to fame, with previous winners going on to become top Bollywood stars.

Clearly the audience's favourite, Miss Chopra impressed the judges by telling them that the biggest influence on her life had been Mother Teresa.

Controversy

The pageant, which was hosted by TV chat show presenter Jerry Springer, attracted contestants from countries ranging from Angola to Kazakhstan to Moldova.

Protests against Miss World competition
Many Western woman object to the contest
It is an event which has survived years of controversy.

When it began, as a promotional event for the Festival of Britain, female contestants were asked to wear bikinis to attract media attention.

But attitudes have changed over the years, and many people - women in particular - have found a competition that judges females on their aesthetic qualities, rather insulting.

As a result, the televised show was removed from its prime time slot in the UK.

The parade with contestants in bikinis was replaced with a more subtle film of the women on a tropical island - while commentary disclosing their vital statistics was scrapped.

Instead, the young entrants, often highly educated, discussed world peace. In some countries, like Venezuela, they have gone on to pursue successful political careers.

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See also:

30 Nov 00 | South Asia
India hopeful for Miss World crown
30 Nov 00 | UK
Miss World contest at 50
30 Nov 00 | South Asian
Is it time to scrap Miss World?
09 Nov 00 | Entertainment
The man who became Mr World
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