Where are they now? Hawaii's Miss Universe Brook Lee - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Where are they now? Hawaii's Miss Universe Brook Lee

Brook Lee Brook Lee
Toni Lee Toni Lee

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -  A Kamehameha Schools alum became Hawaii's first and only Miss Universe more than a decade ago.  Brook Mahealani Lee won the coveted crown in Miami, but what has she been up to since then?

Twelve years ago, Lee made pageant history.  She was the seventh Miss USA to become Miss Universe, but the first from Hawaii and the only native Hawaiian ever to win the title.

She was witty and quick on her feet in answering the final question: If there were no rules in your life for one day, and you could be really outrageous, what would you do?

"I would eat everything in the world," she answered in front of a live audience. "I would eat everything twice."

That answer made her the one to beat.

"But I was like there's no way I was going to win with that answer," Lee said.  "And when I won, my jaw, the picture, my jaw just dropping to the floor."

Her family and friends showered her with aloha at her homecoming in June 1997.

"It's good to be here," she said right after her victory. "Everyone come out to the parade tomorrow.  Let's all eat Spam musubis together."

More than a decade after her win, Lee still meet people who remember that moment.

"Now everywhere I go, people serve me two things," she said. "I got on planes all year long. Flight attendants were like, ‘You eat everything twice.  Here's two!"

The year after her win, she helped bring the Miss Universe pageant to Hawaii, which pumped tens of millions of dollars into our local economy.

"I was just thinking it would be good to give back to Hawaii and help them market themselves to an entire world that had been my host for an entire year," said Lee.  "It's like bringing them home, bringing the world home back to Hawaii for me and showing them where it is I came from."

These days, Lee wears many hats: actress, hostess, wife and mother to 2-year-old Fynnegan.  She's also been told she moonlights as the Hawaiian Airlines logo.

"Brook, if you could help us either confirm or deny a rumor. Are you the face of Hawaiian Airlines?" asked KHNL.

"See, that has a legal concern," said Lee. "Let's have the viewers vote, shall we? Is this it?  Hmm? All you need is the flower.  I like to think I inspire, maybe a couple of free tickets? I don't know."

Lee encourages kids from Hawaii to follow their dreams and see the world.

"So it's good to get the perspective and to be able to appreciate even more the trade winds, and the people and waving to each other, simple things," said Lee. "Getting on the freeway, people waving to each other. It's so important: kindness, appreciation.  A smile makes the world go around."

Lee is in town for her 20th high school class reunion at Kamehameha Schools and Punahou.

She will appear on KHNL News 8 Today, bright and early Friday morning with Dash and Di.

It's that time of the year when schools welcome back their graduates.  Kamehameha schools celebrate alumni week with some good old competition.

It's "Iron Chef" meets ho'olaule'a.  Each class creates a signature dish to share, then the alumni vote on who has the most ono creation in the spirit of friendly competition, but it's the people that keep them coming back every year.

"Every five years, we're able to come back to this campus and be a part of reuniting with our classmates and other classes that we know of," said Toni Lee, Kamehameha Schools Class of '59 alumnae.  "It puts us in a really wonderful sense of being for us."

"It is a very special place that has produced a lot of very special people so to get everybody together, we all feel the same way," said Andrew Lai, Kamehameha Schools Class of '89 alumnus.  "We all bleed blue and white and it's a real special thing.  So it's great. It's a fun week."

Alumni events continue Thursday night and throughout the weekend.

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