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Dayana Mendoza, Venezuela

Dayana Mendoza Moncada was born June 1, 1986 in Caracas, Venezuela. She is a model and winner of the Miss Venezuela pageant 2007, and Miss Universe 2008.

Aged 22, Mendoza was crowned Miss Universe 2008 in the Crown Convention Center, Nha Trang, Vietnam. She became the first winner of the pageant from Venezuela since Alicia Machado in 1996.

Her prize package included cash, a year contract promoting the Miss Universe organization, world travel, a rent-free Manhattan apartment, a gift bag with designer shoes, dresses and beauty products, and a $100,000 stipend for a 2-year course at the New York Film Academy.

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza. [See Adriana Lima]

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza. [See Sofia Vergara]

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza. [See Alessandra Ambrosio]

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza. [See Eva Mendes]

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza. [See Zoe Saldana]

In pageant interviews she revealed that her favorite subject at school was, and continues to be, painting. Her favorite food is pasta. She said, If you are what you eat, I guess I would be an Italian.

Mendoza was discovered when she was 12. A representative for a model agency gave her his card at a bus stop outside her school.

She thought the man was a shady character to be aproaching schoolgirls at a bus stop, but two years later she was in New York beginning her career as a model.

Nude scandal

Mendoza was caught in a nude photo scandal after images of her modeling naked for a jewelry firm surfaced on the internet.

Officials from the Miss Universe Organization did not penalize her, saying that the photos were not pornographic but were artistic in nature, and they don't have an ounce of pornographic content to them..

Guantanamo Bay

On March 27, 2009, Mendoza blogged about a visit to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In it, she wrote: Guantanamo] was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

She also wrote that We saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting.

This led to massive condemnation and ridicult. In Venezuela, the anti-American president, Hugo Chávez, reconsidered the praise he had previously given her.

The Miss Universe Organization said her blog comments were about the hospitality she received from the U.S. military. They were not about prisoner conditions at the camp.

April 1, 2009, the Guantanamo entry vanished from her blog.

GO TO Alessandra Ambrosio