Venezuelan-born Alicia Machado is the daughter of a Cuban father and Spanish mother who immigrated to Venezuela during the middle of the 1900s. Her father, a relative of former Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado, fled Cuba and found refuge in Venezuela after the fall of the Machado regime. Alicia began modeling at an early age before winning the title of Miss Venezuela. After winning the 1996 Miss Universe title (the fourth contestant from Venezuela to do so in the pageant's history), Alicia became a media star; however, winning the title came with a price. Alicia gained weight and was forced by pageant owner Donald Trump to either lose the weight quickly or lose the crown. Many womens' groups attacked Trump's ultimatum, calling it sexist and discriminatory, but within a few months Alicia lost the weight and was allowed to keep her crown. Returning to Venezuela after her reign, she transformed herself into a Spanish-language soap opera/serial star. She shoots the serials in her native Venezuela and remains a major media star throughout Latin America.