UPDATE 11.30am: Perth's Miss Australia Renae Ayris has just missed out on taking out the Miss Universe title.
Twenty-year-old Miss USA Olivia Culpo beat Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon in the world's most prestigious beauty pageant.
Ayris made it into the top five of the Miss Universe final, which was held in Las Vegas this morning (WA time).
The 21-year-old Connolly stunner was hoping to become Australia's first winner of the international leg of the competition since Jennifer Hawkins walked away with the crown in 2004.
Australia competed against Mexico, the Philippines, USA and Brazil in the final five.
The USA and Philippines were followed by Venezuela, Australia, and finally Brazil.
South African beauty Melinda Bam was touted as the one to beat, with many pinning their hopes on the blonde stunner to take out the pageant title, having led the betting stakes this week as the odds-on favourite.
But she failed to make the top five and looked disappointed on stage when her name was not called.Culpo took the crown from Leila Lopes of Angola after strutting in a purple and blue bikini and a red velvet gown.
For the third elimination round, they strutted in evening gowns as band Train and Australian singer Timomatic performed.
Miss Venezuela's straight-cut, emerald-coloured gown was perhaps the most distinct; its long sleeves virtually invisible but for the navy blue, garland-like trim encircling them.
Miss USA's red velvet number was full-skirted and wintery, except for the deep, plunging neckline.Miss Australia's gown evoked a wedding dress - pure white with sparkles at the waist and a corset-style bodice.
Culpo, from Rhode Island, was trying to end a long losing spell for the United States in the competition.An American had not won the right to be called Miss Universe since Brook Lee won the title in 1997.
Angola sported a low-cut sequined gown and said she expected this night to be the worst part of her year.The 2011 winner offered some advice to the women vying for her crown.
"Be calm and smile," she said.
"Smiling helps a lot. Even though they are not relaxed, the judges will think that they are."Sharply dressed women and men, including a large contingent from South America, held banners and cheered on their favourite contestants.
"I've seen them and they are absolutely gorgeous," said Donald Trump, a co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization."They're very nervous and they should be. It's a billion people (watching)."
The pageant started as a local revue in Long Beach, California, organised by Catalina Swimwear.
It is not affiliated with the Miss America pageant and, unlike that contest, does not include a talent section.Watch the telecast tonight at 10.30pm on Channel Seven.
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