Ingrid Marie Rivera beat 29 pageant rivals to become the 2008 Miss Universe contestant – despite the hives.
Ms Rivera was composed while onstage before the cameras and judges, but once backstage, she needed ice packs on her face and body.
“We thought at first it was an allergic reaction, or maybe nerves,” said pageant spokesman Harold Rosario.
"But the second time, we knew it couldn't have been a coincidence."
Later tests revealed the presence of pepper spray.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Ms Rivera’s bag containing her gowns, makeup and credit cards was also stolen.
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