Now, 20 years later, she is back in the headlines.
Ms Machado claims she was called "Miss Piggy" by Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the White House who owned the beauty pageant when she won it.
The remarks were made, the Venezuela-born model says, after she put on some weight following her win.
How did it come up?
The issue was brought up by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, during Monday's televised debate with Mr Trump. She was making a point about her rival's remarks about women.