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Japanese woman realizes the dream of someone else's lifetime

Tbduniverse053007If you missed last night’s Miss Universe pageant, you no doubt will be happy to hear that 20-year-old Riyo Mori, a dancer from Japan, fulfilled a lifelong dream of winning the contest. Unfortunately, it wasn’t her dream.

Mori said her grandmother told her as a child that she wanted her to be Miss Japan before she turned 20, the AP reports.

“From the very beginning, I entered the competition with high hopes and an unswerving determination to make this dream a reality,” she said in a pre-competition interview.

So she made her grandmother’s dream come true by snatching up the $250,000 diamond-encrusted tiara, which almost fell off her dome when ’06 winner Zuleyka Rivera got all ham-fisted during the crowning ceremony. (So okay, Mori actually didn’t win before she was 20, but close enough.)

And what does Mori want to do with her newfound power?

“I learned how to always be happy, be patient and to be positive, and this is what I want to teach to the next generation,” she said, adding a heartfelt “tee-hee.”

Tbdsmith053007_2 Winning the whole enchilada was more impressive than Miss USA Rachel Smith’s fourth runner-up finish. Smith fell on her ass during the evening gown competition and was roundly jeered by the Mexican audience in a display of hateful, unsportsmanlike behavior not seen since Mexico’s goalkeeper tried to trip a U.S. player during a February soccer match.

But like all travelers abroad know, all you need to do is try to speak the language a little and things will go much more smoothly. Smith won cheers by saying “Buenas noches, Mexico. Muchas gracias!” Of course, she was taking a page from Mori, who had given a hearty “Hola, Mexico!” during her interview.

As for Mori, she no doubt is set for life as a minor celebrity back home. Says pageant co-owner Donald Trump: “I hear that they go totally insane in Japan, so that’s good.”

Update: Here's some video of what you really want to see -- Rachel's tumble and subsequent fake smile, looking a tad faker than usual.

[Photos: Mori by Getty Images, Smith by AP]

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:13am]


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