'World's Ugliest Dog' Zsa Zsa Dies Weeks After Winning Prize

Zsa Zsa, the reigning "World's Ugliest Dog," has crossed the rainbow bridge less than a month after securing her title. The English Bulldog whose long, floppy tongue cascaded past her protruding underbite died on Tuesday, her owner says. She was 9.

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(Photo: JOSH EDELSON / Contributor, Getty)

Zsa Zsa died in her sleep, her owner, Megan Brainard of Anoka, Minnesota, told the Star Tribune.

"She’s been staying over at my dad’s house. He woke up this morning and found her passed away," Brainard told the Today show, adding that Zsa Zsa's passing was "devastating."

She said that she and her husband, Jesse, are still "processing" the death of the pup, who she said she adopted after Zsa Zsa was rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri at 5 years old. "I'm still in shock ... It's kind of like when she won [the World's Ugliest Dog contest]. It's been two weeks and I still don't believe it. It's probably going to be the same with her passing," she told Today.

The couple and their 15-month-old daughter, Mareslie, held a farewell ceremony for the dog.

"I picked Zsa Zsa up and took her outside and laid her down in the grass. We were all saying our goodbyes and Mareslie went right over and gave her a kiss. It was sweet. She was waving at her," Brainard said.

Zsa Zsa's barrel chest, crooked teeth and pink manicure helped her win the 30th annual World's Ugliest Dog contest in California on June 23, besting 13 other dogs (including a terrier named Scamp with scraggly dreadlocks) to claim her crown. Brainard and her husband drove 30 hours from their home to California so Zsa Zsa could compete in the contest.

Zsa Zsa, who was named after Hungraian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor because she liked to lie on the couch "like a beautiful model," won a trophy for herself and $1,500 for Underdog Rescue, the group that rescued her.

She seemed to relish the victory. "She knew she was special. She never really showed much excitement but yes, she was definitely living it up after she won," Brainard told Today.

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The contest is all in fun to raise awareness of pet adoption and to show that all dogs, even the ugly ones, are worthy of love.

"From the moment we saw her beautiful face, we knew we would be her forever home," her owners said in a statement on the contest's website.