Wednesday’s Miss Universe 2012 in Las Vegas has drawn a field of 89 contestants, who look to succeed Angola’s Leila Lopes as this year’s winner.

Miss Universe 2012 Betting: South Africa, Venezuela favored in Las Vegas

Miss Universe Betting has opened South Africa’s Melinda Bam as a 3/1 favorite, while Venezuela’s Irene Esser and Puerto Rico’s Bodine Koehler follow close behind at prices of 6/1 betting odds.

Bam looks to become South Africa’s first Miss Universe since 1978, when Margaret Gardiner captured the country’s sole crown. The 23-year-old won Miss South Africa’s pageant on her first attempt, while three of the nation’s past four winners went on to at least a Top 15 finish in Miss Universe.

Esser hopes to follow in the steps of Stefania Fernandez and Dayana Mendoza, who won back-to-back Miss Universe titles for Venezuela in 2008 and 2009. The surfing lover notched the accolades of Miss Elegance and Best Evening Gown en route to winning her Miss Venezuela crown, last year.

Koehler is a musician in Puerto Rico, with Adele being one of her role models in the business. The 20-year-old has worked with charities to gather school shoes for children in Puerto Rico and Haiti, while having early descent from the Netherlands and Dominican Republic.

The pageant’s top five contenders round out with Paraguay’s Egni Eckert and the Philippines’ Janine Tugonon, who are both listed at 8/1. Eckert works as a model and enjoys auto racing, while Tugonon graudated from Manila’s Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Thomas with cum laude honors.

USA’s Olivia Culpo leads off the longer shots (11/1), finding herself as a home underdog on Planet Hollywood’s stage. The Rhode Island native edged out Maryland’s Nana Meriwether in June’s battle, which was also held in Las Vegas.

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The trio of Australia’s Renae Ayris, Ecuador’s Carolina Aguirre, and Malaysia’s Kimberly Leggett join Culpo at the same odds of 11/1. Ayris has been a model in her home nation, as well as Germany, while performing charity work in China for Operation Smile. Aguirre won Best Figure and Best Face honors when capturing her Miss Ecuador crown, while Leggett enjoys fitness and sports as part of studying at the University of Malaysia.

Guyana’s Ruqayyah Boyer and Mexico’s Karina Gonzalez have been priced at 14/1 and 15/1, respectively. Boyer notably fell during this week’s preliminary evening gown competition, which is sure to make the public and judges pass on backing her here. Gonzalez hopes to become Mexico’s third winner of Miss Universe, with Ximena Navarrete’s most recent triumph coming in Las Vegas, two years ago.

Costa Rica’s Nazareth Cascante is a dark horse among the field at 50/1 odds. The Alajuela native is a pharmacy student at San Jose’s UCIMED, succeeding Johanna Solano as last year’s Miss Costa Rica. Solano notably went on to finish in Miss Universe’s Top 10 as a long shot, marking the second time a “Tica” has accomplished this in the past eight years.

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