Mrs Universe 2013 Carol Lee - a Queen of smiles

KUALA LUMPUR - Newly-crowned Mrs Universe 2013 Carol Lee smiled through the day of the international pageant's finals despite suffering from rashes.

Recalling her victory on Sunday against 29 contestants from all over the world, Lee said she kept the faith and was not affected by her skin condition.

"I have no idea how it happened. I just told myself to be focused and continue with what I was going to do. Just smile and everything will be fine," she told a press conference here yesterday.

Lee, 39, the reigning Mrs Malaysia Universe, secured the crown in the finals at The Westin Aruba Resort in Palm Beach, in the Caribbean.

Mrs Universe is a recognition of "the most honourable married woman" and is awarded to women aged between 25 and 45, taking into account family and career as well as involvement in a significant cause.

The news presenter and former talk show host said she could not have won without the support of fellow Malaysians who voted for her online. Lee garnered 88,649 votes in the online fan votes contest, narrowly beating Mrs USA Amanda Grad who got 88,556 votes.

"Because of that, I've always been among the top three and I believe that got the judges to pay attention to me!" she said.

Besides being an avid public speaker and emcee, Lee runs Starz Studio, a child development and learning centre.

Lee was also thankful for the support from her family, especially her husband, Kenneth Lee, 42.

Kenneth, who was at the press conference with their daughter Klarissa, five, said he was proud of his wife's achievements.

"I'm very happy and proud, and everyone has started to call me Mr Universe," said the general manager of a multi-national company.

The theme for this year's pageant was "Stop Domestic Violence", which fitted into Lee's participation in nationwide campaigns to assist non-governmental organisations fight domestic violence against women.

Lee is currently working on a nationwide campaign against domestic violence with Sogo KL and All Women's Action Society (Awam).