Nguyen Thi Thanh was disowned by Vietnam after culture officials learnt that she went to Egypt to attend the Miss Eco International contest behind their back.
They also threatened to impose a cash fine and to ban the 21-year-old from appearing in future events in Vietnam.
On Friday night, in a twist of fate, Thanh cracked the top five of the mostly unknown beauty pageant. She was even named one of the runners-up.
It's likely that this title will not give her any immunity when she returns home.
Thanh was declared the first runner-up at the Miss Tourism Vietnam contest last month, but the organizer later found out that she had a dental implant and took back her title.
Without a national title recognized by the culture ministry, Thanh could not qualify for overseas contests. But she entered herself into the competition in Egypt anyway.
More than a dozen of models and contestants have been fined over the past two years for competing overseas without permission in similar cases, according to local media reports. It is believed that most of them have deliberately broken the rule in desperate attempts to give themselves a career boost.
Nguyen Dang Chuong, a senior official at the culture ministry, said the authorities will soon make their decision on how to punish Thanh.