"Accident-prone" may be one way to describe Olivia Culpo, the 20-year-old Rhode Island resident who claimed the Miss Universe title in Las Vegas Wednesday night:
- The rented $20 dress she wore in the Rhode Island pageant turned out to have a hole in the back.
- She lost an earring during the interview portion of the pageant before she took the Miss USA crown in the spring.
- She stumbled on the hem of her red gown during Wednesday night's Miss Universe pageant.
But the Boston University student drew on confidence and poise to use these slip-ups to her advantage.
"I like the fact that I tripped last night in my evening gown, I think that that's cool,'' she told the Associated Press in an interview Thursday in the Planet Hollywood winner's suite in Las Vegas. "And you learn from it: Don't step on your dress."
The former Miss USA spent the first day of her reign surrounded by stylists and handlers, wearing a scarlet mini-dress with cutout cap sleeves and sky-high silver heels. Plates of cupcakes and croissants sat untouched as she sipped from a water bottle with a straw.
A middle child of five, Culpo was studying theater and communications at Boston University when she decided to enroll in the Miss Rhode Island pageant last year to improve her stage presence.
She took a year off from Boston University to fulfill the travel and charity obligations that come along with the Miss USA crown, and now says she will not return to her former college.
"I do want to finish my education," she said. "I just don't think that Boston has a big enough market for what I want to do."
As Miss Universe, Culpo said she will advocate for HIV prevention, the official platform of the title holder, but does not intend to speak out on other issues.
But she did have advice for the "pageant moms" who have caught the nation's attention on reality television shows such as TLC's "TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras."
"If you think that your child is going to be really sensitive to the fact that they might not win, which they probably won't, you shouldn't do it because it's not healthy if they get the feeling that they're not good enough or they're not worthy," she said.