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Rozanna makes the top ten -- but Miss Mexico is star of the Universe

SHE may not be Miss Universe -- but Rozanna Purcell still outperformed most of her predecessors.

Narrowly missing out on a place in the top five, the UCD student (19) made it to seventh place, before eventually losing out to Miss Mexico.

Unlike Lynn Kelly and Diana Donnelly, Roz stormed the top 10 and has become one of the most talked about contestants in recent years, making headlines for participating in topless photo shoots and fake tan fiascos.

But she was pipped to the post by 22-year old Jimena Navarrete, who was crowned Miss Universe in Las Vegas last night at the star studded ceremony in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, hosted by rocker Bret Michaels and NBC correspondent Natalie Morales.

The new Miss Universe won a package of prizes including an undisclosed salary, a luxury New York apartment with living expenses, a one-year scholarship to the New York Film Academy with housing after her reign, plus jewellery, clothes and shoes.

The celebrity judges included actress Jane Seymour, actor William Baldwin, magician Criss Angel, model Niki Taylor and Olympic gold medallist Evan Lysacek.

Well-wishers from Ireland and abroad have since bombarded Rozanna with messages of support, congratulating her on her achievement.

Ever the consummate professional, the Assets model gave a congratulatory message to her competitor afterwards.

"Well done Miss Mexico and my mate Jessie," she said last night.

Navarrete was immediately congratulated on Twitter by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala. "Congratulations to Jimena Navarrete for her deserved victory as Miss Universe," Calderon said. "This will serve Mexico, (and) our image as a country."

By the end of the show, seven of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter had to do with the pageant, owned by Donald Trump and NBC.

The franchise sees the live final aired in some 190 countries and territories and is one of the most watched annual television events.

Miss Congeniality was won by Miss Australia Jesinta Campbell, Miss Photogenic was scooped by Miss Thailand Fonthip Watcharatrakul, who nabbed a second award for having the best national costume.

And in spite of making pageant history, Muslim contestant Miss USA Rima Fakih failed to make the top 15.

cmcbride@herald.ie