The victory of Riyo Mori during Miss Universe 2007 easily sticks out in the mind of followers of modern pageant history because: 1) an Asian delegate prevailed over the Latinas in their own turf which presumably led to 2) Zuleyka Rivera looking disenchanted when she crowned her successor especially that 3) Riyo wore the most non-pageant competition evening gown on the road to the crown, and 4) another Asian – Honey Lee of Korea – making it all the way to Top 5 (which happened again in 2011 when the Philippines and China emerged as runners-up).
Donald Trump gave his two thumbs up to the win of Riyo Mori regardless of his personal preferences. After all, pageantry is and will always be a business. And the Japanese beauty really delivered when it mattered. Never mind the pressure from the Latin American audience and watchers. Truth be told, I was secretly hoping then that Natalia Guimaraes of Brazil would be named winner. But 1st Runner-Up ain’t bad.The life of Riyo took a 180-degree turn from the time she was named Miss Universe 2007. From being a ballet dancer and model/actress in Japan, she embraced the bigger limelight and made herself available for all the commitments and public demands of the title. As a result, she was one of the most well-traveled titleholders after visiting Indonesia, Spain, the Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, China, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Vietnam, France, Monaco, San Marino, Russia and Italy throughout her reign.
Below is a video of Riyo being interviewed by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray during Miss USA 2019.Riyo eventually starred in the MTV reality TV show “Pageant Place” that ran for one season, as well as the VH1 program “The Price of Beauty”. She was last seen in the Philippines as judge during the 65th Miss Universe. Below is one of her photos in Atlanta, Georgia where she also served as judge during Miss Universe 2019.