How Rent The Runway Helped 20-Year-Old American Beauty, Olivia Culpo, Get Crowned Miss Universe

Two years ago, Olivia Culpo had never entered a beauty pageant. Today, she is Miss Universe, the first American to win in fifteen years.

But she might not have made it there without the help of a New York startup, Rent The Runway.

Rent The Runway is a designer shop that lets users rent dresses for a few days instead of buying them outright. It recently raised $20 million from a number of investors including magazine giant, Conde Nast.

The 20-year-old is a Boston University sophomore studying acting. She figured beauty pageants could help her with stage presence, so she entered her home-state Miss Rhode Island competition. It was her first pageant ever.

As such, Culpo found herself a under prepared and had to battle a series of unfortunate events to nab the Miss USA crown.

She tells Glamour she slept past her alarm on the morning of, she found chocolate melted onto the backside of her tight, white interview dress.

In addition, she hadn’t gone shopping for an evening gown.

“I ended up getting my dress the night before,” she tells Us Weekly. “It was a $20 Rent-the-Runway gown that was too short [and had] a hole in the back of it.”

Still, Culpo dazzled the judges and took home the Miss Rhode Island crown, which qualified her for the Miss USA crown. Then she won over the world.

Here’s the shot in her Miss Rhode Island-winning Rent The Runway dress, from September 2011:

(Click to enlarge)

olivia culpo miss rhode island miss universe facebook

Photo: Miss Rhode Island USA/Facebook

Here’s a shot of her just before winning Miss USA:

olivia culpo miss usa

Photo: Getty Images, Photo by Isaac Brekken

And here’s a shot of her winning Miss Universe last week:

Olivia Culpo pageant queen Miss Universe

Photo: Getty

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at

Tagged In

miss usa sai-us