The new Miss World is 21-year-old Gina Marie Tolleson of Spartenburg, S.C.
The brown-haired, brown-eyed Tolleson, who is six feet tall, was crowned at the 40th annual Miss World beauty contest Thursday night by last year's winner, Aneta Kreglicka of Poland.First runner-up was Miss Ireland, 20-year-old air stewardess Siobhan McClafferty. Miss Venezuela, 19-year-old dance teacher Sharon Raquel Luenso Gonzales, was third. A panel of judges made the selection.
The contest at the London Palladium was watched live by a worldwide television audience of 500 million, the organizers said.
In Britain, however, the 90-minute show, which included performances from singer Jason Donovan and pianist Richard Clayderman, was screened later.
In recent years British television companies have declined to show the contest live, citing a decline in the number of viewers it attracts.
Tolleson won $19,000 in cash and a work contract worth $59,000.
Tolleson, who said she hopes to become a broadcaster after finishing her studies, is trained in ballet, jazz and tap dancing. Her hobbies include horseback riding and gardening.
This year marked the Miss World contest's return to London. It was held in Hong Kong for the first time last year after 38 years in the British capital.