'Today' anchor returns to Brazil for Miss Universe
September 7th, 2011
06:34 AM ET

'Today' anchor returns to Brazil for Miss Universe

Long before becoming news anchor on NBC's "Today," Natalie Morales was a self-described "Air Force brat" growing up around the world. Part of that childhood, it turns out, was spent in Brazil.

"I was there for about four years until I was 10 years old. I can remember spending a lot of time at the beaches and walking on the black-and-white sidewalks," she recalled during an interview.

Since the Miss Universe pageant will be in Sao Paulo, Morales is heading back in a homecoming of sorts. The "Today" anchor is set to co-host the pageant, airing Monday on NBC.

Contestants from 89 countries and territories will be up for the title, but regardless of who wins, Morales says, Brazil will come out of the pageant a champion.

"The country's hosting Miss Universe this year, soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016," she points out. "Brazil is definitely becoming a go-to destination for the biggest events."

And for Morales, it'll also be a chance to reconnect. "My mother's family still calls Brazil home, and my husband and kids will be visiting the country for the first time. I hope to practice my Portuguese!"

When it comes to the competition itself, Brazilian-born IndyCar driver and former "Dancing With the Stars" champion Helio Castroneves, who will be one of the judges of this year's pageant, knows precisely what he's looking for. Whoever wins won't succeed solely on good looks.

"Miss Universe serves as a role model," Castroneves says. "You need to find someone who's more than just a runway model. She needs to also be a role model - the whole package."

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soundoff (7 Responses)
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    April 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Anteplaura

    sell new coach handbags for promotion code to your friends

    February 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. equinox

    "real people?" These ladies in the pageants are real people. I've seen many beautiful people in every day life that look just like or better than the ones in the pageants. Most of society has gotten lazy and "average/plus size"d. Miss Unhealthy Overweight. Doesn't have a ring too it.

    September 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela_Di

      I agree with you! It is sheer laziness! Unless you have a medical condition, there is no excuse to be overweight/obese. I just recently had a baby, and did everything I could to go back to my pre-pregnancy weight. And guess what, eating healthy and light exercise worked like a charm!

      Beauty pageant contestants do not look like walking hangers like high fashion models. High fashion models look sick and very unattractive to me. However, fit beautiful models such as the ones you see in beauty pageants are another story. Kids won't get body image problems if YOU as a parent explain to them that you need to eat healthy and exercise if you want to live a long life. But that's too much work for some parents, they'd rather stuff their kids with Happy Meals and let them play Call of Duty all day.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. melvinslizard

    None of these women can hold a candle to MY WIFE!

    September 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. starrfire

    Howdy FIX! What you said is true. I quit watching beauty pagents years ago. I watches Toddlers and Tiaras a few times and it made me sad. It usually all begins with the mother/parents. In any pagent, they never show the "natural" beauty. It's all make-up, wigs, botox, etc. How sad.... Have a good day!

    September 7, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. FIX IN TX

    Looks will still matter though. No matter what anyone says. You will never find an average/plus size Miss Universe. And people wonder how kids begin to get body image problems. Show what real people look like please (and that is not stick figures).

    September 7, 2011 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |

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