Miss Universe 2006


Zuleyka Rivera

Photo Gallery

Miss Universe 2006

Zuleyka Jerris Rivera Mendoza
(born October 3, 1987 in Cayey, Puerto Rico) is a beauty queen who has held the titles Miss Puerto Rico Universe and Miss Universe 2006. Prior to winning the Miss Puerto Rico title she won the local pageant for her hometown of Salinas. She had also placed as the first runner-up in the Miss Teen Puerto Rico pageant. Only eighteen years of age when she was crowned Miss Universe, Rivera is one of the youngest women to win the title. She is also the first winner from Puerto Rico of mixed racial heritage, as her four predecessors (Marisol Malaret, Deborah Carthy-Deu, Dayanara Torres, and Denise Quinones) all have distinctly European features.

Rivera won the title during the Miss Universe 2006 pageant, which was televised live internationally from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on July 23, 2006. She is the fifth Puerto Rican to win the title, and makes Puerto Rico the second most successful nation to compete in the pageant (behind the United States). Prior to Rivera's win, Puerto Rico had been tied with Venezuela, both each having won the pageant a total of four times. Rivera's win comes only five years after Denise Quiñones, the most recent winner from Puerto Rico, won the crown. Rivera was crowned by Natalie Glebova of Canada, Miss Universe 2005. Later that evening, Rivera fainted briefly during a press appearance. The incident was reportedly attributed to heat exhaustion (from the stage lights) coupled with the weight of the heavy, chained dress she was wearing.

As Miss Universe, Rivera will represent the Miss Universe Organization, both in the United States and internationally. She will be based in New York City, where she will share an apartment with Tara Conner, Miss USA and with Miss Teen USA 2006, who will be selected at a pageant held in August.

Prior to winning Miss Universe, Zuleyka Rivera was a journalism major at the University of Puerto Rico. She has two younger brothers named Jose Alberto and Jerry Rivera, Jr.

Zuleyka was crowned this years Miss Universe on the 23rd of July. She allowed us to interview her earlier this year.

1. What made you decide to enter the Miss Puerto Rico pageant?

The desire to represent the Puerto Rican female in other countries and to be a role Model for young females who want to be or are in some way interested to be a Miss Puerto Rico.

2. You had previously been in the Miss Teen Puerto Rico pageant. Did this experience help you to win Miss Puerto Rico Universe?
Even though i didn't win that peagent, it made me more mature and it gave me the tools and the experience to get better and to be more prepared for the Miss Puerto Rico Peagent. Two totally different experiences though.

3. What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you?
The funniest thing that ever happened to me was when I was learning how to drive, I was learning on a manual transmision car and apparently i missed the clutch and the car stalled in the middle of the road making a huge trafic jam. I got so nervous that is was hard for me to turn it back on in the middle of the rush.

4. If you could meet anyone past or present, who would you like to meet?
Now in the present time i would like to meet Angelina Jolie and in the past i would have like to meet Sor Isolina Ferre.

5. If you had to tell a complete stranger something about Puerto Rico what would you tell them?
I would tell them that Puerto Rico is a wonderful place especially for the tourist because it is full of places to visit and also the night life it's terrific. Not to mension the arts and crafts of the island and the corteous people.

6. What is the most interesting thing about you?
I would say that the most interesting thing about me is my honesty.

7. What is your favourite TV show?

8. What are your future goals?
Right now i am focusing on my preparation for the Miss Universe Peagent, then i am going to finish studying and last but not least, i'll continue in the modeling industry.

9. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
I want to thank all my fans for their support and no matter how hard are the goals of each one of us, perseverance is the key. God bless you all.

10. Have you had any time to read anything about the pageant on the Internet? Have you seen pictures of other candidates? What do you think?
Yes, and i had the oportunity of seeing Miss Venezuela, Miss Colombia and Miss Dominican Republic as a guest in this peagent. I think they are very good, strong candidates. It wll be a rigid and hard competition.

Miss Universe 2005

Miss Universe 2004