ASTANA – Seventeen-year-old Alia Mergenbaeva has been crowned Miss Kazakhstan 2015, beating out 29 other contestants aged 16 to 23 during the 10th edition of the beauty pageant held in the Kazakh capital on Thursday.
In the first stage of the contest the jury selected the 15 most attractive hopefuls. Of these, only five young women, representatives from Petropavlovsk, Astana, Shymkent, Karaganda, Zhezkazgan, and Almaty, reached final.
The winner of the Miss Kazakhstan pageant was chosen by popular vote.
Olympic cycling champion Alexandre Vinokourov was on hand to crown the winner.
Alia Mergenbaeva hails from Aktau, the oil capital of Kazakhstan.
Mergenbaeva, who will now represent Kazakhstan at the “Miss World 2016” contest, received a prize of five million tenge ($5,000).
“I will give the money to my mother. She is the one who always supported me,” Miss Kazakhstan 2105 said.
“I never expected to win, and I am very happy to have participated in the competition. For me it was a dream.”
The election of Miss Kazakhstan is celebrated annually on Dec. 10, the date on which Astana became the Eurasian nation’s capital.