(L-R) First runner-up Duong Tu Anh, Miss Vietnam 2012 Dang Thu Thao and second runner-up Do Hoang Anh.
Dang Thu Thao, 21, a student from the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu, was crowned Miss Vietnam 2012 at the end of a three-hour finale on Saturday, edging out the other 38 finalists.
Thao, the first-ever winner from Mekong Delta, was widely considered the front-runner by the local media along with Vuong Thu Phuong, who was prohibited from participating in the final night due to her recent marriage scandal.
The organizers found out that Phuong and her ex-boyfriend had held a wedding ceremony two years ago and then lived with each other for a short time although they have not applied for a marriage certificate.
In the interview round, Thao drew applause from the audience for her answer to the question of why people care about beauty contests.
She said, "Women have played an important role in our lives and they are called beauties. Everybody loves women's beauty and beauty contests are held to celebrate it.
"While watching these events, the audience not only admire beautiful girls but they also see how these women express themselves and present their regional culture. For this reason, people all pay a great deal of attention to the beauty pageants."
The following day, Thao remained incredulous about her victory.
"When I was crowned Miss Vietnam, I couldn't believe it and kept on wondering if it was true or not," Thao told her fans at an online Q&A session held Sunday by Tien Phong newspaper.
Thao, a Finance and Banking student at Tay Do University in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, was also crowned Miss Mekong Delta 2012 on April 29.
She was born into a family of three children, VnExpress reported, and left her hometown for Can Tho city where she worked as a barista at a coffee shop to support the cost of her studies.
She plans to use 40 percent of her VND300 million (US$14,402) prize for charity activities in Bac Lieu, Can Tho and Da Nang.
Duong Tu Anh, 19, and Do Hoang Anh, 18, both from Hanoi, were named the first and second-runner-up respectively.
The 13th Miss Vietnam pageant took place at Da Nang's Tien Son Sports Hall on August 25 and was televised on channel VTV1 and VTV4.
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