Some of the past winners of the Miss Universe Pageant are Linda Bement, of the United States; Georgina Rizk, of Lebanon; Karen Baldwin, of Canada; and Lupita Jones, of Mexico. The first Miss Universe Pageant was won by Armi Kuusela, of Finland, in 1952.
The Miss Universe Pageant stemmed from a Catalina Swimwear competition for locals in Long Beach, California. Since its inception, contestants and winners of the pageant have been expected to maintain high standards of morals, values, humanitarian efforts, and educational and career goals. The premise of the pageant is to encourage young women to be as well-rounded, cultured and educated as possible, while making it a priority to inflict a positive difference in the lives of others around the world.
Winners from the earliest years of the pageant include Miriam Stevenson, of the United States; Gladys Zender, of Peru; and Akiko Kojima, of Japan. The 1960s were the first full decade of the pageant, and winners include Norma Nolan, of Argentina; Apastra Hongsakula, of Thailand; and Martha Vasconcellos, of Brazil.
Later years of the pageant show its expansion and inclusion of contestants from an increased number of countries. Winners of the 1990s and 2000s include Michelle McLean, of Namibia; Sushmita Sen, of India; Mpule Kwelagobe, of Botswana; Leila Lopes, of Angola; and Paulina Vega, of Colombia.