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CNN LIVE ON LOCATION

New Miss Universe Crowned

Aired September 24, 2002 - 14:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: History was made today in the beauty pageant universe. For the first time ever, a contestant was crowned Miss Universe who did not win the competition. The former Miss Panama picked up the tiara from Miss Russia, who was forced to step down.
CNN's Michael Okwu joins us now from New York with more of the scoop.

Hi, Michael.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra. How are you?

Imagine you spend a significant portion of your life preparing to take over the universe. You primp, you preen, you eat just right enough to get that bathing suit to hang just so. And then it is taken from you. That is exactly what happened to Miss Russia, Oxana Fedorova. Today, a new Miss Universe was crowned, literally in the basement of the level of the Trump Tower here in New York City. You are looking at 23-year-old Justine Pasek of Panama. It's the first time in the 52-year history of the pageant that a winner was terminated, but organizers said over the past four months, they were placed in the position of the canceling events, often at the last moment, they were charged for photo shoots in which Oxana, Miss Russia, did not show up. Most recently, they were told to clear the schedule for the remainder of the year.

Miss Universe co-owner Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, MISS UNIVERSE ORGANIZER: No, I didn't know Oxana well, but I thought she was a very nice person. But she really dealt with the people at the Miss Universe. And again, we thought she was very beautiful and very nice, but she just wasn't able to fulfill her duties, and therefore, we had no choice but to terminate her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OWKU: The new Miss Universe apparently found out she had been given the title last night, when she happened to be in town. She said she was speechless, didn't get any sleep, but she said she is looking forward to being a good will ambassador in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which is the main duty of the titleholder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTINE PASEK, MISS UNIVERSE 2002: I am sure for every girl that has been in the situation, I mean, turning into Miss Universe, it is something that it is not, it is not really planned. You can only start to imagine what it will be like. So, first of all, happiness, excitement to begin this new journey -- and I am very eager to work hard for...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OWKU: I spent some point in the afternoon speaking to Miss Pasek, which, Kyra, I can tell you was a very tough assignment for me. She says that she is planning on calling Miss Russia at some point very soon, which should be a very interesting conversation given the fact that Oxana has told Russian television that she still considers herself to be Miss Universe -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: During that interview, did you find out, by chance, if she is single, Michael?

OWKU: Do you think I am going to give that away?

PHILLIPS: I'll talk to you of camera in a little bit. Way to go. Tough assignment, I do agree. Michael Okwu, thank you.

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