Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Brook Mahealani Lee
Of mixed Korean, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Hawaiian ancestry, Brook was Miss USA and Miss Hawaii-USA prior to winning the Miss Universe pageant. Her Korean grandfather immigrated to Hawaii in the 1950s. Lee graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1989.
Lee was crowned Miss Hawaii USA on her third try for the crown, then went on to win the Miss USA crown in Shreveport, Louisiana on February 5, 1997. Three months later, Lee won the Miss Universe pageant in Miami, Florida. That year, the outgoing Miss Universe, Alicia Machado of Venezuela, was criticized by Donald Trump for gaining weight after winning the crown in 1996. It is said that Lee's answers to the judges' questions in both the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, both of which alluded to that controversy, greatly impressed the judges. In the Miss USA pageant, when asked about how she would handle weight gain, Lee said, "I would take a good hard look at myself, and I'd look from the inside out, and I would know that I'm the same girl that won the crown that day and it wouldn’t really matter what I look like on the outside because I won." Later, in the Miss Universe pageant, when asked what she would do if she didn't have to follow any rules, she replied, "I would eat everything in the whole world — twice!"
After her reign as Miss Universe, Lee has made several cameo appearances in movies and television shows, and has hosted numerous television shows in Asia and the United States. Her current project is a regional television show known as Pacific Fusion, which focuses on Asian-American lifestyles. Lee currently lives in Santa Monica, California.
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