Zuleyka Jerrís Rivera Mendoza (born October 3, 1987) is a Puerto Rican beauty queen and actress who held the titles Miss Puerto Rico Universe 2006 and Miss Universe 2006. She made her debut as a telenovela actress in Telemundo’s soap opera Dame Chocolate.
Zuleyka Rivera represented Puerto Rico in the Miss Universe 2006 pageant which was televised live internationally from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on 23 July 2006. After competing in swimsuit, evening gown and interview, she was crowned Miss Universe by outgoing titleholder Natalie Glebova of Canada.
Later that evening, Rivera fainted briefly during a press appearance. The incident was reportedly attributed to heat exhaustion (from the stage lights) coupled with the weight of the heavy, chained dress she was wearing.
Rivera was the fifth Puerto Rican to win the title, which makes the island the third most successful entity in the pageant (behind theUnited States and Venezuela). Rivera was the third consecutive delegate from Puerto Rico to make the top five at Miss Universe, afterAlba Reyes placed second runner-up at Miss Universe 2004 and Cynthia Olavarría was first runner-up at Miss Universe 2005.
Rivera’s win came only five years after Denise Quiñones, the most recent winner from Puerto Rico, won the crown. As Miss Universe, Rivera represented the Miss Universe Organization, both in the United States and internationally. She was based in New York City, where she shared an apartment with Tara Conner, Miss USA and Katie Blair, Miss Teen USA 2006.
At the Miss Universe 2007 pageant she passed her crown to Riyo Mori of Japan in Mexico City, Mexico on May 28, 2007.