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At the ripe old age of 23, Dayana Mendoza has reigned as Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe, gone to an Italian interior design school, and traveled the world while fulfilling her duties as the official hottest woman in all of existence. Not bad. Now the sultry South American’s reign is coming to an end, and she’s ready to do something her hectic schedule hasn’t allowed her to do in a year—pass out.

Is there any contestant or country you’re rooting for to win Miss Universe 2009?
No, no, not really.

Not even your own?
I would love to be able to talk to all of them and then pick my favorite, but they are so beautiful you cannot pick one just by looking at her face.

What was the reaction like in Venezuela when you won?
Venezuela went 12 years not having a Miss Universe. They did, like, parades. In South America we’re big fanatics of pageants. My parents told me that when I won, cars were going through the streets honking like after a soccer match.

And when you got home, were people still going crazy?
I saw all these Venezuelans with the little flags, and they were crying, and I was kind of crying as well. I really enjoyed how much happiness I could bring to so many people by winning. And I think we needed it in my country.

Does a guy have to be an oil tycoon to get a date with yo
u?
No, he doesn’t have to be a soccer player or an actor, either. He just has to be a special guy who is very genuine.

Pick up the September issue of Maxim on newsstands August 18th for more of Dayana Mendoza. And be sure to watch Dayana crown this year's champion when the Miss Universe Pageant is broadcast live, Sunday August 23, at 9 p.m. EST on NBC and Telemundo.

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza

Dayana Mendoza