Olivia Culpo opens up about how she stays in shape – and what she plans to do as Miss Universe

By Mark Gray
Updated December 20, 2012 04:00 PM
Credit: Julie Jacobson/AP

Olivia Culpo went from being Miss USA to Miss Universe on Wednesday night – and it didn’t take her long for her to begin thinking internationally … at least when it comes to eating.

“I can’t wait to go to Asia,” the 20-year-old Rhode Island beauty told PEOPLE on Thursday morning. “I’ve never been anywhere in Asia. I like Asian food. I love soup. I really want to go to Vietnam and try some soup. There’s nothing like it being authentic.”

A few hours after being crowned Miss Universe – the first time a contestant from the United States has won the title in 15 years – Culpo sat down with PEOPLE over coffee in her suite in Las Vegas’s Planet Hollywood Hotel to discuss her journey, her new focus and her newest celebrity crush, among other things.

How are you feeling as Miss Universe?
I don’t think it’s sunk in. It’s incredible. I can’t believe USA finally did it.

What were you thinking about as you were standing on stage last night?
I was exhausted! The other girls have a bit of an advantage because they’ve been prepped and prepped to be Miss Universe. I live with Miss Universe in New York, and as Miss USA I travel all over the country using my title to spread awareness for breast and ovarian cancer. I didn’t really have time to prepare. I just wanted to see whoever’s destiny it was. I just wanted to be myself and be open. I did think I was capable of doing the job but I kind of wanted to see who would win.

As Miss Universe, will your platform still be about raising awareness for breast and ovarian cancer?
I won’t be doing so much about breast cancer and ovarian cancer because that was my platform as Miss USA. Miss Universe’s platform is HIV and AIDS. I know a lot of the organizations that are affiliated with breast and ovarian cancer and it’s always easy enough to inform girls about the symptoms of those diseases. … That’s what the most important. But I’ll also be taking on the responsibility of informing people about HIV and AIDS, so I’ll be learning a lot about that too.

How do you stay in shape with such a time-intensive schedule?
I stick to a low carb, high protein diet. Shocker, I know. Everyone does that in my world. That’s a lot of lean protein. It’s important to keep your metabolism up, so I eat breakfast, then I’ll have a snack of almonds or something. Then [I eat] a lunch of high protein, low carb [food], then another snack of fruit – and then dinner.

And what’s dinner?
Chicken and vegetables right now. I’ll eat when I’m in non-competition mode. I’ll just have to hit the gym extra hard.

What’s your sugary weakness?
I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Would you be able to resist if they were in front of you right now?
Right now, no way. But they’ve been around all week and I haven’t had any. I’ve been eyeballing them.

You’re single, but who is your celebrity crush?
My judge [Rock of Ages star Diego Boneta] is really hot. Can I just say that? And I tripped right in front of him! He’s cute. He’s the crush of the week. It’s an ongoing thing!