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Natalie Glebova (born Natalya Vladimirovna Glebova;[a] 11 November 1981) is a Russian-Canadian television host, author, dancer, model, and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Universe 2005. Glebova had previously been crowned Miss Universe Canada 2005.
In 2004, Glebova began her pageantry career while competing in Miss Universe Canada 2004, where she placed as the third runner-up behind eventual winner Venessa Fisher. Glebova returned the following year and won the Miss Universe Canada 2005 title.
As Miss Universe Canada 2005, Glebova earned the right to represent Canada in the Miss Universe 2005 pageant, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand. Glebova became the fourth Canadian in ten years to advance to the semi-finals, eventually advancing to the top five along with Cynthia Olavarria of Puerto Rico, Laura Elizondo of Mexico, Renata Sone of Dominican Republic, and Monica Spear of Venezuela. Throughout the contest, Glebova gave a traditional Thai greeting known as a “Wai” on every appearance which helped her win over Thai audiences and judges. At the conclusion of the pageant, Glebova was crowned Miss Universe 2005 by outgoing titleholder Jennifer Hawkins of Australia. Glebova’s win was Canada’s second after Karen Dianne Baldwin had been crowned Miss Universe 1982.
Glebova at an event in August 2005
As Miss Universe, Glebova traveled extensively and immersed herself in a campaign to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, the ongoing platform of the Miss Universe titleholder. She attended the G8 Summit in New York City on 11 August 2005, which reflected on ending poverty in underdeveloped regions, and ending gang activity and drug cartels in Colombia. In November, Glebova attended a special Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in Delhi, India, and was on a week-long tour of several Indian cities on an AIDS Awareness Program. In December, she attended the national pageants of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic before going back to Thailand to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 2004 tsunami tragedy.
During Glebova’s official homecoming to her hometown of Toronto, the Miss Universe was formally offered an apology by the city’s mayor David Miller after she was barred from attending a “Tastes of Thailand” festival while wearing her sash and tiara nor being introduced as a beauty titleholder. A 1990 bylaw, which prevents sexual stereotyping of women in public events, was strictly enforced and largely criticized by Miller and Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart. Shugart called the episode an “insult” to not only Glebova, but to the Thai government who named her an “honorary tourism ambassador”. According to Shugart, this was the first time in Miss Universe’s history that a titleholder was uninvited from a public event. The same bylaw was once invoked to bar Barenaked Ladies from a public concert at Nathan Phillips Square due to their name.
During her reign, Glebova traveled to Africa in July to attend an AIDS Educational Tour with the Global Health Council, Malaysia in late September, the Bahamas and St. Martin. In late March 2006, Glebova visited Russia for the first time since leaving the country in her pre-teens. She participated in an HIV-AIDS Awareness campaign in Moscow and attended a Russian fashion show as a special guest. She also made numerous trips to Thailand, where she commemorated the anniversary of the tsunami and Canada, her home nation.
She also attended the national pageants of Ukraine in mid October, Puerto Rico in November, Dominican Republic in December, Czech Republic in February, Thailand and Nicaragua in March, Brazil in April. She also crowned Alice Panikian as her Miss Universe Canada successor the night of March 21, 2006. Alice finished 6th in Miss Universe.
Glebova was supposed to travel to Indonesia to crown Miss Indonesia Universe 2006 in late July, but because of Canada’s travel ban to the Southeast Asian country, Glebova was officially replaced with Puerto Rico’s Cynthia Olavarria, the First Runner-Up of Miss Universe 2005. Since the Miss Indonesia pageant’s revival in 2000, this was the first time in which Miss Universe was unable to attend the coronation.
On July 23, 2006, Glebova crowned Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza of Puerto Rico as her successor in Los Angeles.