Joanna to jet off to Vegas - for televised Miss Universe finals

Derry woman Joanna Cooper who was crowned Miss Universe: Ireland in Cork on Friday night.
Derry woman Joanna Cooper who was crowned Miss Universe: Ireland in Cork on Friday night.

A 21 year old Derry student is getting ready to set off on the trip of a lifetime when she jets to Las Vegas later this week to compete for the title of Miss Universe.

Former Thornhill College student Joanna Cooper - who is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Belfast Met, was crowned Miss Universe Ireland on Friday night at a glitzy competition in Cork.

She won out over 21 other contestants - having earned her place in the competition through a Wildcard pass after she submitted her photo to the competition organisers via Instagram.

Joanne went through three rounds - cocktail dress, bikini, and evening wear - before the girls were whittled down to the final 10. Joanna was then selected for the final three before going on to win.

She had her boyfriend and parents in tow for support and wowed the judges who included model Rozanna Purcell, SoSueMe blogger Suzanne Jackson and Big Brother personality Marc O’Neill.

Head judge Rozanna Purcell said: “We were looking for the perfect beauty queen to go to Las Vega and represent Ireland. Joanna fills those shoes.”

Tweeting after the competition at the weekend, Joanna said: “Just home after being crowned @MissUniverseIRL 2015- I am over the moon! Busy few weeks ahead #MissUniverseIreland”

She later tweeted: “Exhausting but amazing few days, is this real life #3DaysTilVegas.”

The Derry beauty, who has been likened to top model Cara Delevingne, will fly to Vegas this week where she will stay until the final is broadcast live on Fox TV on December 20.

If Joanna wins the overall title she will spend a year as an ambassador for the Miss Universe Organisation.

She will travel overseas to spread messages about the control of diseases, peace, and public awareness of AIDS.

The competition, though run by the Miss Universe Organisation, is owned by business man and current US Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Since Mr Trump took over the pageant, the winner has also been given the use of a Trump Place apartment in New York City during her reign.

If the winner, for any reason, cannot fulfill her duties as Miss Universe, the 1st runner-up takes over.

Aside from the main winner and her runners-up, special awards are also given to the winners of the best National Costume, Miss Photogenic, and Miss Congeniality. The Miss Congeniality award is chosen by the delegates themselves.