Things are being done very differently and somewhat scaled down this year as the preliminaries which are being held on November 20 at 7 p.m. in Las Vegas are being held in a ballroom and it is only being live streamed online on November 25 (the day before the pageant) at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on the Miss Universe Youtube page so this is going to make predicting much more challenging this year. The national costume competition was held on November 18 which was also the day that India's Manushi Chhillar won a 6th Miss World crown for her country. I'm still going to post my final predictions on November 23 anyway though as I have a general idea of how I think things are going to go.

The record-breaking 92 delegates (surpassing the record of 89 set in 2011 and 2012) but Sierra Leone's delegate did not arrive due to visa issues which brought the number of contestants down from 93 to 92. The ladies are participating in various activities during their stay in Vegas. Rumor has it that there is a top 16 this year that will advance to the semifinals which at least is higher than the top 13 for the Miss Universe 2016 pageant.

We will all witness the magic unfold on November 26 on FOX when the Miss Universe 2017 pageant broadcasts live from Las Vegas. This year's performers include Fergie who is making a first time appearance at the Miss Universe pageant even though her songs have been used in past pageants like 'Glamorous' which was the Miss USA 2007 evening gown song and 'A Little Party Never Killed Nobody' which was the final look song for Miss Universe 2013. Fergie was also part of the Black Eyed Peas whose songs 'I Gotta Feeling' was used for the intro of Miss Universe 2009 and their version of 'Mas Que Nada' was the introductory song for Miss Universe 2011. Also performing is Rachel Platten best known for her hit 'Fight Song'. Steve Harvey will return as host for the third of a confirmed five years in a row and Ashley Graham will also do backstage reporting. Serving as color commentators are Carson Kressley (who has done the same thing for several pageants before like the 2006 Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants), and Lu Sierra who is the runway coach for Miss Universe. The judging panel will be mixed again this year. Two judges will serve on both the preliminary and final panels and they are: Wendy Fitzwilliam-Miss Universe 1998 and Megan Olivi. For the preliminaries, the other judges will be: Morgan Deane, Isabelle Lindblom, Cecilio Asuncion and Bill Pereira.

For the finals, the other judges will be: Pia Wurtzbach-Miss Universe 2015, Ross Mathews, Jay Manuel and Lele Pons.
A lot of you have been asking who I think the early contenders are so here is a 2nd round of prethoughts of my current feelings about each of the 92 delegates for the 66th Miss Universe pageant for 2017 so far.

Albania-Blerta Leka

This girl certainly is busty and smoldering but I don't think IMG is looking for just a model so as of right now, Blerta is not among my picks. Albania has never won the crown and their last placement was in 2010 when they made the top 10. Will the land where Mother Teresa spent much of her childhood make a comeback this year?

Angola-Lauriela Martins

I don't see Angola placing this year. Angola last placed when they won the crown in 2011 thanks to Leila Lopes who still remains the Miss Universe with the longest reign.

Argentina-Stefanía Incandela

She's decent but I don't see her making enough of an impact. The land of Evita Peron last placed in the top 10 for 2014 and they have one Miss Universe winner, Norma Nolan in 1962.

Aruba-Alina Mansur

Placements for Aruba are rare and Alina is a very good candidate but I'm not expecting a placement this year. Aruba's last and best placement was in 1996 when Taryn Mansell was 1st runner up. However, it should be noted that one of Aruba's placements was in 1974, the first year the Miss Universe pageant was held in the Philippines!

Australia-Olivia Rogers

The land down under has performed extremely well in recent years and a lot of eyes are on Olivia to continue that trend as they have placed in 7 of the last 9 Miss Universe pageants missing out only on 2013 and 2016. Olivia is among my top 16 picks at the moment. Australia placed in the top 5 in 2015 and they have won the crown two times which were in 1972 (Kerry Anne Wells) and 2004 (Jennifer Hawkins).

Austria-Celine Schrenk

Celine is actually quite photogenic but I don't really think Austria will place this year. Austria's last and best placement was in 1977 was when Eva Maria Duringer would place as 1st runner up and Eva would later marry one of the judges of that pageant, Roberto Cavalli.

Bahamas-Yasmine Cooke

She is studying medicine but her look isn't quite right to me so I don't think she will place. The Bahamas have never placed in the history of Miss Universe but they have hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2009.

Barbados-Lesley Chapman

The birthplace of pop sensation Rihanna has never placed in Miss Universe history with sporadic participation over the years. I don't see a placement for them this year.

Belgium-Liesbeth Claus

Belgium did place in 2015 and this year's delegate is also quite photogenic but I don't think this year's delegate will create enough impact to place. Belgium has never won the Miss Universe crown but they have placed in the top 6 in 1981 and 1992.

Bolivia-Gleisy Noguer

This year's pageant isn't in Los Angeles so they won't place. Of course, I'm kidding as a venue normally doesn't affect a country's chances but it is true that Bolivia's last two placements were when the Miss Universe pageant was held in Los Angeles (in 2006 and 1990). I don't see Bolivia placing this year.

Brazil-Monalysa Alcântara

The land of the Samba has placed every year since they hosted the pageant in 2011 placing 6 years in a row. I don't think Monalysa is strong enough to place though so I think the streak ends here. Brazil has won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Ieda Maria Vargas in 1963 and Martha Vasconcellos in 1968?

British Virgin Islands-Khephra Sylvester

I think Nature's Little Secret will remain a secret this year.

Bulgaria-Nikoleta Todorova

The land of roses has yet to place at Miss Universe. It doesn't look like this will be their year.

Cambodia-Sotheary By

Cambodia is one of three countries making their debut at Miss Universe this year (Laos and Nepal are the other two debuts this year). I don't think this delegate will place though.

Canada-Lauren Howe

The land of the maple leaf placed last year for the first time since 2006 so will Lauren do it two years in a row for Canada. It is possible but I have her as an alternate at the moment as I don't know if she will garner enough favor from the judges. Canada has won two Miss Universe crowns thanks to Karen Baldwin in 1982 and Natalie Glebova in 2005.

Cayman Islands-Anika Conolly

The land of crystal blue waters and white coral beaches has never placed but Iris Mittenaere was invited to the Cayman Islands during her reign so could Anika get a first placement for the Cayman Islands. It doesn't seem too likely so she is not among my picks this year.

Chile-Natividad Leiva

The Latinas are normally well prepared and Natividad certainly looks to be among them but Chile doesn't have as strong a presence in Miss Universe as some other countries so it's usually an uphill battle for them. She is more of a third tier delegate for me this year. Chile's Cecilia Bolocco won their only Miss Universe crown in 1987 and their last placement was in 2004.

China-Roxana Qiu

The world's most populated country sends us an unconventional looking delegate this year but I don't see her placing. China last placed in 2013 and they have never won the crown.

Colombia-Laura González

Laura is among my top 10 as from what I have seen of her, she appears to be quite strong as is normally expected of the Latina delegates. I will admit I didn't really get her when she was first crowned Miss Colombia but they have styled and prepared her well. The world's finest coffee land won the Miss Universe crown twice (1958 and 2014) and have placed as 1st runner up a whopping 5 times. They have placed in the top 3 for 3 years in a row so will she continue this trend? A lot of eyes will be on Laura to see what happens with her.

Costa Rica-Elena Correa

The land of peace and brotherhood sends Elena this year but I don't see a placement for Costa Rica this year. After their first placement in 1954, they incredibly had to wait 50 years for their next placement in 2004 and they also placed in 2011 and 2013.

Croatia-Shanaelle Petty

Shanaelle Petty is one to watch for the simple fact that she is the first biracial delegate that Croatia is sending. Her father is African-American and she is tall and modelesque and aspires to work for NASA. I'm not totally positive about her but IMG may smile on her so I'll be mentioning her somewhere. Croatia has placed twice as a semifinalist (2009 and 2012).

Curaçao-Nashaira Balentien

Curaçao made the top 10 last year in 2015 and they got a 1st runner up placement in 1968 and they also finished 4th in 1997. I don't see a placement happening this year though.

Czech Republic-Michaela Habáňová

I'm wondering if the crown used in 2015 and 2016 that was designed by Czech company DIC is even being used this year as there have been pictures of Iris Mittenaere wearing the old Diamond Nexus crown and there was a falling out after DIC apparently missed two payments for being the crown sponsor so we shall see which crown is being used on the final night. As for Michaela, I don't have her in my list at the moment. Czech Republic has never won the crown but they did have a 4 year streak in the semifinals from 2007 to 2010.

Dominican Republic-Carmen Muñoz

I'm unsure about this one. I don't think she'll be in my list but there's possibilities here. The Dominican Republic won the crown in 2003 thanks to Amelia Vega and placed in the top 10 in 2015.

Ecuador-Daniela Cepeda

The land where the hemispheres meet last placed in 2013 when they pulled off their highest placement ever when Constanza Baez placed as 2nd runner up. Daniela had an impressive presentation during the National Costume show and Iris Mittenaere visited Ecuador during her reign so Daniela is one to keep an eye on but I have her as more of a third tier delegate at present.

Egypt-Farah Sedky

The land of ancient wonders and modern progress returns this year with young Farah. Iris Mittenaere attended her crowning so will it finally be time for Egypt to get its first placement in history? She isn't among my picks at the moment but we have been surprised before!

El Salvador-Alisson Abarca

The gentleman of the Americas sends us photogenic Alisson Abarca but I don't think she has the height to make enough of an impact. The host country of the 1975 Miss Universe pageant has never won the crown but they did place as 1st runner up back in 1955 and they haven't placed in the semifinals since 1996.

Ethiopia-Akinahom Zergaw

Ethiopia has only placed once which was in 2006 but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Finland-Michaela Söderholm

It looks like another year out for the land of thousands of lakes. Even though the land where tolerance and northern lights shine bright hasn't placed since 1996, they have 2 Miss Universe winners including the very first Miss Universe, Armi Kuusela who won her crown in 1952 and later married Filipino businessman, Virgilio Hilario.

France-Alicia Aylies

Alicia was crowned Miss France even before Iris Mittenaere was crowned Miss Universe so she has had lots of time to prepare so we shall see if she can live up to the pressure of representing the country of the reigning Miss Universe. Venezuela is the only country that has won two successive Miss Universe crowns (2008 and 2009) but Alicia is heavily favored with her exotic but modelesque appearance so she is in my top 10 at the moment. Alicia hopes to place a 4th year in a row for the fashion capital of the world which has won two Miss Universe crowns (1953 and 2016) and France is one of three countries that has competed at every Miss Universe pageant since its inception in 1952 (Canada and Germany are the other two and USA was disqualified in 1957).

Georgia-Marita Gogodze

Marita does stand out as one of the few contestants with short hair so could her unique look get her Georgia's first placement in history?

Germany-Sophia Koch

Sophia is actually quite photogenic but usually some of the Europeans either don't quite have the right body or the right walk so I will be watching her closely during preliminaries. The land that has produced some of my favorite music has competed in every Miss Universe pageant since the first one in 1952. Germany hasn't placed since 2002 and they won the crown once back in 1961.

Ghana-Ruth Quashie

The shining star of Africa's gold coast hasn't placed since their only placement back in 1999 which was a surprise so will Ruth pull off another surprise this year?

Great Britain-Anna Burdzy

Anna is more understated and serene but I do like her so at the moment I have her as an alternate but she could move up if I feel strongly enough about her in the next few days. The land of the Union Jack has never won the crown and last placed in 2013.

Guam-Myana Welch

Myana was also Miss Northern Marianas Teen 2006 so this young lady is experienced but placements for Guam are rare as the land where America's day begins hasn't placed since 1982 when Patty Chong Kerkos achieved their highest placement of 1st runner up.

Guatemala-Isel Suñiga

The heart of the Mundo Maya last placed in 2010 but this year's delegate is not expected to place. Height is usually a challenge for delegates from this country.

Guyana-Rafieya Husain

This country has never placed and this year's delegate is not expected to change that.

Haiti-Cassandra Chéry

Haiti finished as 1st runner up last year as they did in 1975 so Cassandra has a lot of pressure on her. Haiti has been stricken with many natural disasters over the years and Cassandra with her great overall look is winning my favor so she is among my picks at the moment. Let's see if she stays there after preliminaries.

Honduras-April Tobie

Honduras hasn't placed since 1955 which makes them the country that has had to wait the longest for a repeat semifinalist. There's possibilities here but I'm not thinking chances are too high.

Iceland-Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir

The land of glaciers and lava and Björk hasn't placed since making the top 15 in 2009. Arna bears a striking resemblance to Shanna Moakler, Miss USA 1995 but I'm not too sure about how the judges will respond to her so I have her as an honorable mention currently but she could move up as she has a story about being told to lose weight prior to competing at Miss Grand International from which she withdrew but being a pole vaulter, her story got her a brand representative position with Nike. Iceland has never won the crown but their highest placement was as 1st runner up in 1962.

India-Shraddha Shashidhar

Iris Mittenaere assisted in Shraddha's crowning and interview seems to be India's strong point but I'll be waiting until preliminaries to determine where exactly I place her. India has won Miss Universe two times thanks to Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000 and they last placed for 2014.

Indonesia-Bunga Jelitha Ibrani

Indonesia has placed 4 years in a row now and Bunga hopes to keep the streak going and get a 5th consecutive year for the emerald of Southeast Asia. Indonesia has never been able to advance past the first round in each year that they have placed so let's see if the fatigue sets in or if tall Bunga gets that placement and if she does, will she advance past the first round?

Iraq-Sarah Abdali Idan

For the second time in Miss Universe history, Iraq is back after a 45 year absence last competing in 1972. A lot of people are intrigued that Iraq is even competing and she is already making international headlines even after another selfie episode where Sarah and Israel's delegate were photographed together. I feel like her newsworthiness makes her semifinalist material so she is among my picks at the moment.

Ireland-Cailín Toíbín

The emerald isle last placed in 2010 and although they have never won the crown, they have 2 2nd runner ups in 1963 and 1983. This year, under the directorship of former Miss Indiana USA, Brittany Mason, Ireland has returned with Cailín who is another delegate to keep an eye on. She is one of a few Irish people who can speak Gaelic so this could be a point of interest for her. I have her as more of a third tier delegate but we'll see if that changes after preliminaries.

Israel-Adar Gandelsman

Adar's national costume was of Wonder Woman inspired by Gal Gadot who was Miss Israel 2004 and now plays the heroine's role. Although she isn't among my picks at the moment, I still will be keeping an eye on her. This historic land last placed in 2005 and Rina Messinger is Israel's only Miss Universe winning the crown in 1976.

Italy-Maria Polverino

Maria does have a modelesque like many of the delegates but I'm not sure that she has the interview skills or is ready for this particular job so currently I'm not expecting the land of pasta and fashion to place this year but we'll see if she can change my mind after preliminaries. Italy has never won the Miss Universe crown but they do have two 1st runner ups (1960 and 1987).

Jamaica-Davina Bennett

Davina is tall and is sporting a unique afro hairstyle. I think I might be putting her as an honorable mention but I'll be watching her during preliminaries to determine exactly where I place her. Even though the island of reggae has won Miss World 3 times, they have never won the Miss Universe crown but their best placement was 1st runner up in 2010.

Japan-Momoko Abe

Momoko is certainly a quirky character but I have to say her national costume presentation was amazing. There is also a rumor that this year's Miss Universe may be crowned with the Japanese company Mikimoto's crown that was used from 2002 to 2007 so are these all good signs for the land of the rising sun? Japan last placed in 2015 and they have won the Miss Universe crown twice (1959 and 2007).

Kazakhstan-Kamilla Asylova

Kazakhstan is a country that has never placed and that isn't expected to change this year.

Korea-Sewhee Cho

I don't see this year's Korean delegate placing. Korea last placed in 2007 and the closest they came to the crown was a 1st runner up placement in 1988.

Laos-Souphaphone Somvichith

Laos is one of three countries debuting at Miss Universe this year along with Cambodia and Nepal but I don't foresee a placement for Laos this year.

Lebanon-Jana Sader

I was actually quite happy with Jana when I first saw pictures of her as she does have a great look so she was higher on my list but I'm hearing she may not have received ample training so I fear she may not be job ready so I have her as an honorable mention at the moment but let's see if she improves after preliminaries. Lebanon has won once in 1971 but hasn't placed since 1973.

Malaysia-Samantha James

Malaysia normally doesn't place and that isn't expected to change this year. They have only placed once which was back in 1970.

Malta-Tiffany Pisani

Tiffany won Britain's Next Top Model in 2010 but the Top Model franchise doesn't air on FOX but Jay Manuel who was part of America's Next Top Model is a finals judge so needless to say, Tiffany has me very conflicted. I have her a third tier delegate but if she really impresses me during preliminaries, she could move up. Tiffany has an opportunity to get Malta's first placement ever.

Mauritius-Angie Callychurn

Angie has prepared well so let's see if she can get the first placement for the peaceful island of paradise.

Mexico-Denisse Franco

The land of the Mariachi is the only country to have placed in each year that Miss Universe was held in Las Vegas and Denisse is expected to do it a 6th time. Denisse is among my top 10 picks at the moment as I see her doing very well. Mexico has won the Miss Universe crown twice (1991 and 2010) and both of these crowns were won in Las Vegas so could it be time for a third?

Myanmar-Zun Thansin

Myanmar has never placed and isn't expected to but it is possible that this nation with their 'too heavy' but innovative costumes might win the National Costume award again this year.

Namibia-Suné January

Namibia won their only Miss Universe crown in 1992 and they haven't placed since 2003. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Nepal-Nagma Shrestha

Nepal is making its debut at Miss Universe and Nagma is tall and quite poised and is definitely one to watch. I have her in my top 16 at the moment so we'll see if I feel strongly enough about keeping her there after preliminaries. Nagma has also done well in quite a few pageants winning the title of Miss Eco Universe 2016, placing as 3rd runner up at World Miss University and also placing in the top 8 at Miss Earth 2012.

Netherlands-Nicky Opheij

Like Malta, we have another Top Model winner among us! Nicky won Holland's Next Top Model in 2014. I don't foresee a placement for her this year though. The land of tulips and windmills made the top 5 for 2014 which was their last placement and Angela Visser won the crown for Holland in 1989.

New Zealand-Harlem-Cruz Atarangi Ihaia

New Zealand won the crown once in 1983 but the Kiwis haven't placed since 1992 surprisingly. Their bet this year prides herself on her Maori roots but she is not expected to place.

Nicaragua-Berenice Quezada

The land of lakes and volcanoes last placed in 2013 but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Nigeria-Stephanie Agbasi

Placements for Nigeria are rare. Their only placement was in 2001 by Agbani Darego who would go on to win Miss World later that year. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Norway-Kaja Kojan

The land of the fjords hasn't placed since 2005 and they won the crown once in 1990. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Panama-Laura de Sanctis

This tropical isthmus hopes to make it two years in a row after placing last year and Laura has been compared to Celine Dion which is an artist that the girls got to see perform during their stay in Vegas. She could be up there but I'm not entirely sure at this point so I'll wait until after preliminaries to see where I put her.

Paraguay-Ariela Machado

Ariela is one to watch as there are possibilities here but I'm thinking she will be more of a third tier delegate. Paraguay has never won and they last placed in 2006 and 2004 placing as 3rd runner up both times.

Peru-Prissila Howard

Prissila is definitely among my top picks this year. As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, the Miss Peru pageant that recently concluded to crown next year's representative did something unique by having the contestants state gender violence statistics instead of their body measurements. Prissila has looked very impressive and consistent during her stay in Vegas. The land of the Incas is expected to make it two years in a row and their only winner was Gladys Zender back in 1957.

Philippines-Rachel Peters

Rachel has extreme pressure to maintain the longest running streak in the semifinals currently held by a country placing 7 years in a row and Rachel hopes to make it an 8th. I have Rachel as an alternate at this stage and even though there is a Filipino judge in both the preliminary and final panels, I somehow feel like the streak may end here but we'll see what happens. The tropical haven of Asia has 3 Miss Universe winners: Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margarita Moran in 1973 and Pia Wurtzbach in 2015.

Poland-Katarzyna Włodarek

I adore Katarzyna as you may have guessed from my first round prethoughts. Not only does she possess tremendous natural beauty, she is also a doctor and she is even a Pole who can pole dance! She will be among my top picks this year. Body and carriage may be a determining factor though but I definitely hope the judges recognize what an amazing find she is. Poland's most recent placement was in 2012 in Las Vegas and they have never won the crown but have placed as 3rd runner up twice (1986 and 1989).

Portugal-Matilde Lima

Portugal got their first and only placement ever in 2011 finishing in the top 10. This year's delegate is decent and could pull a surprise but it seems unlikely.

Puerto Rico-Danyeshka (Danna) Hernández

Following the destruction of her island from Hurricanes Irma and Maria recently, Puerto Rico is very top-of-mind right now and I think this will help Danna so she is among my top 16. The shining star of the Caribbean has won the Miss Universe crown 5 times (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2006) and last placed in 2013.

Romania-Ioana Mihalache

The land of mysterious Dracula has never placed and that isn't expected to change this year.

Russia-Ksenia Alexandrova

Ksenia is another one that is quite photogenic but I wonder if the whole scandal with the U.S. presidency and Russia could cause Russia to take a backseat this year. I have her as an honorable mention at the moment as I get the impression that their delegates aren't as prepared when it comes to interviews and job readiness. Russia last placed in 2012 and their only winner, Oxana Fedorova was dethroned in 2002.

St. Lucia-Louise Victor

St. Lucia has never placed in this pageant's history and that isn't expected to change this year.

Singapore-Manuela Bruntraeger

Placements for Singapore are rare and this year's delegate is not in my list. Singapore last placed in 1987 which was also the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant.

Slovak Republic-Vanessa Bottánová

Slovak Republic placed only once which was in 1994 in the Philippines. Delegates from this country normally are very good looking but there interview skills and preparedness usually isn't up to par.

Slovenia-Emina Ekić

Slovenia placed only once which was in 2007 so will the land of the first lady of the U.S. do it this year? They might like her message of love and peace saying she experienced bullying due to her parents being Bosnian and it was funny that she said her country looks like a chicken. Maybe she will pull off a Turkey 2012??

South Africa-Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters

Demi-Leigh is pretty much universally favored so she will be among my top picks. She has an amazing story to tell about being carjacked and learning self-defense and South Africans are known for having strong interview skills so the world is expecting big things from Demi-Leigh. South Africa last placed in 2015 and their only Miss Universe is Margaret Gardiner who won the crown in 1978.

Spain-Sofía del Prado

Spain won its only crown back in 1974 and hasn't placed since 2014 and this year's delegate actually looks promising so I will wait until preliminaries to determine where I place her.

Sri Lanka-Christina Peiris

Christina would be a very worthy semifinalist and she is very photogenic and speaks well too yet Sri Lanka tends to be a forgotten country so it's hard to say what will happen. She is in my list but could fall out based on what happens in preliminaries. Sri Lanka hasn't placed since their only placement back in 1955.

Sweden-Frida Fornander

The land of the midnight sun hasn't had much success in recent years but Frida might be able to turn that around. Sweden has won the crown 3 times (1955, 1966 and 1984) and they last placed in 2009.

Tanzania-Lilian Ericaah Maraule

Tanzania last placed in 2007 but this year's delegate could be a surprise. She works in broadcasting and has a very good message but I will wait until after preliminaries to see where I place her as she has potential.

Thailand-Maria Lynn Poonlertlarp Ehren

As I'm sure you deduced from my first round prethoughts, Maria is my winner and will likely remain my winner as this is a very strong overall candidate with a great look and body and she speaks very well and is fluent in English. Maria is expected to not only place for a 3 year in a row but also to go the distance and win a third Miss Universe crown for the golden kingdom of Thailand succeeding their wins in 1965 and 1988. Thailand has also hosted two Miss Universe pageants (1992 and 2005).

Trinidad & Tobago-Yvonne Clarke

The birthplace of Carnival returns this year after not competing for 2015 or 2016 with Yvonne who almost didn't compete for Miss Universe as she was temporarily dethroned shortly before she was set to leave for Las Vegas but then reinstated so it has been a dramatic episode for her. Trinidad & Tobago has won two Miss Universe crowns in 1977 and 1998 and the 1998 winner, Wendy Fitzwilliam will serve as a judge on both the preliminary and final panels this year. They haven't placed since 2006 but a placement doesn't seem to likely this year.

Turkey-Pinar Tartan

Turkey pulled off a surprise placement in 2012 and they have never won the crown but this year's musical delegate isn't expected to place.

Ukraine-Yana Krasnikova

Yana is decent being a multilingual candidate but with a certain someone absent from involvement with the pageant, Ukraine placing is more of an uphill battle and it isn't expected to happen this year. Ukraine has never won but they were 1st runner up in 2011 and 2nd runner up for 2014 but haven't placed since.

Uruguay-Marisol Acosta

Placements for Uruguay are rare and this year's delegate isn't expected to change that. Uruguay hasn't placed since 1985.

USA-Kára McCullough

Kára McCullough has the opportunity to capture a 9th Miss Universe crown for her country and as mentioned previously, there is a pattern to support it as the USA has won the Miss Universe crown 7 years after winning each of their Miss World crowns. The USA last won Miss World in 2010 which points to a win for Kára at Miss Universe. She has used her work in the field of science to win her way to her national crown and at the moment she is in my top 5. Will she do it?

US Virgin Islands-Esonica Veira

Esonica placed in the top 15 of Miss World 2011 and was 4th runner up at Miss Supranational 2013 but went unplaced at Miss Earth 2014. She has a lot of experience but the land of beauty and culture hasn't placed since 1971 and I don't think it will happen this time around.

Venezuela-Keysi Sayago

Keysi's nation is in a state of disarray but she is a life-of-the-party type of candidate and Venezuelans have consistently been strong in the international pageant scene so she will be among my top picks this year. Venezuela may have had a rare absence from the semifinals last year, Keysi, with her engineering background, now has a chance to win the 8th Miss Universe crown for her nation so we will see if she can pull it off.

Vietnam-Loan Nguyen

Vietnam has only placed once which was in 2008, the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Zambia-Isabel Chikoti

The land of the smoke and thunder of Victoria Falls returns this year after last competing in 2010. Zambia has never placed and that isn't expected to change this year.

So there you have it! Again, I will post my final predictions on November 23 and then the truth will be unveiled on November 26 on FOX!!



Watch Miss Universe 2017 on November 26, 2017 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on FOX!

Leaving Las Vegas

Who will succeed la belle Mademoiselle, Iris Mittenaere of France and become Miss Universe 2017?

Mexico-Denisse Franco The delegates are arriving in Las Vegas so it is time once again for the first round prethoughts for the 66th annual Miss Universe pageant! The 2017 Miss Universe pageant will be hosted for a third year in a row by Steve Harvey and is expected to have at least 93 delegates compete which far surpasses the record previously held by both the 2011 and 2012 Miss Universe pageants which both each had 89 delegates compete. Three countries are expected to be making their debut at the Miss Universe pageant this year and they include: Cambodia, Laos and Nepal. Like 2015, the calendar year of 2017 is the second to have two Miss Universe pageants in it so one can only wonder if this going to be a trend and if 2018 will be a yet another Miss Universe-less year and will there be two Miss Universe pageants in 2019? We shall see once we know when the 2018 Miss Universe pageant will be held. The 2016 Miss Universe pageant was held in January 2017 in the Philippines and now for the sixth time in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, the 66th annual Miss Universe pageant is being held on November 26, 2017 at the AXIS at Planet Hollywood. The previous winners of the Miss Universe crown in the pageants held in Las Vegas were: Mexico’s Lupita Jones in 1991, Venezuela’s Alicia Machado in 1996, Mexico’s Ximena Navarrete in 2010, USA’s Olivia Culpo in 2012 and the Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach in 2015. The only country to have placed in all 5 previous Miss Universe pageants held in Las Vegas is Mexico and the land of the Mariachi has claimed both of its Miss Universe crowns in Las Vegas in 1991 and 2010 so will this year’s Mexican representative, Denisse Franco, do it a third time for the land where the optimism lives in their hearts?? But who truly will be ‘leaving Las Vegas’ as Miss Universe 2017?

Thai A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree
It’s Been 3 Long Years

Thailand-Maria Ehren Thailand-Maria Ehren And although it works with the lyrics, Thailand’s Maria Lynn Poonlertlarp Ehren hopes to make it “3 long years” in a row for the golden kingdom of Thailand by placing in the semifinals for the third year in a row and many people including myself are anticipating a win this time around. In 2015, Thailand’s Aniporn Chalermburanawong made the top 10 and for 2016, Thailand’s Chalita Suansane captured a top 6 spot so will it be a top 3 spot and possibly the win for Thailand this time around?? Thailand has been strong in terms of the online vote as seen in recent years seeing how Chalita won the online vote for 2016 and Aniporn won the National Costume vote in 2015 and Thailand has also won many Photogenic and other National Costume awards over the years so this should only help Maria but she also has other aspects that could work in her favor. Like Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach of the Philippines, Maria is also half-European on her father’s side. Pia Wurtzbach’s father is German and Maria Ehren’s father is Swedish. Multiracial candidates have been all the rage in recent Miss Universe pageants as a reflection of the increasingly diversified world in which we live. For example, the 2000 Miss Universe pageant had 4 of the top 10 coming from biracial backgrounds: Canada’s Kim Yee (half Ukrainian-half Chinese), USA’s Lynnette Cole (half Puerto Rican-half white), Zimbabwe’s Corrinne Crewe (half black-half white) and France’s Sonia Rolland (half French-half Rwandan) and even the winner of Miss Universe 2000, India’s Lara Dutta has European ancestry on her mother Jennifer’s side. Maria is 6 feet tall with a great body and is a stunning beauty and many eyes are on her to bring Thailand their third Miss Universe crown following the 1965 winner, Apasra Hongsakula and the 1988 winner, Porntip Bui Nakhirankanok Simon. Thailand has also hosted the Miss Universe pageant twice in two very memorable years (1992-which happens to be the year Maria was born and 2005). Maria also has quite an interesting résumé. She has worked as an English teacher, a DJ, a singer, a digital marketing manager and, of course, a model but she also is well educated having obtained a Bachelor's Degree from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University of Netherlands and would go on to attend the Stockholm Business School for her Master's Degree within the Stockholm University majoring in International Business Commerce. Maria is also fluent in English and Thai and speaks a little Swedish and Mandarin and as we learned from the 2016 Miss Universe pageant, there is more emphasis now on fluency in English considering that Miss Universe has to live in the United States during her reign. Maria has also raised awareness of various social issues as she has advocated towards gender equality, proper trash disposal and care for the homeless. Maria is ready to fight for that elusive Miss Universe crown and win the battle and bring the crown home so will the Thai people be tying yellow ribbons around old oak trees to support her? After the passing last year of their beloved King Bhumibol, a win would bring much solace to a nation in mourning so will Thailand experience joy again through Maria becoming their new international queen?

She Blinded US With Science!

USA-Kára McCullough USA-Kára McCullough“Yeah, she's pretty... but is she a Rocket Scientist?!?!” That seems to be the question being asked of today’s pageant titleholders since IMG acquired ownership of the Miss Universe family of pageants in 2015. As demonstrated amongst recent titleholders, it is not enough for a titleholder to simply be confidently beautiful but she must also be uniquely accomplished. For example, take the reigning Miss USA, Kára Deidre McCullough who attended South Carolina State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a concentration in radiochemistry and works as an emergency preparedness specialist in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response. Today’s adult titleholders already are working professionals like the reigning Miss Universe, France’s Iris Mittenaere who works as a dentist and even last year’s Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, who had the unique accomplishment of working in the military commissioned as a quartermaster officer and logistics commander in the Army Reserve as a captain and working as an IT analyst for the United States Department of Commerce. Even recent Miss Teen USA titleholders have had unique achievements like being able to quickly name all the presidents or the preamble to the constitution or hold special honors in the girl scouts. As this year’s host delegate, Kára is expected to have a lot of crowd support from the audience but Miss USA regularly places among the semifinals at Miss Universe missing the cut only 5 times in the pageant’s history (1957, 1976, 1999, 2002 and 2010) and the USA has won the crown 8 times (1954, 1956, 1960, 1967, 1980, 1995, 1997 and 2012) which is more than any other country. Venezuela is a close second with 7 Miss Universe crowns. If Kára was to win the Miss Universe crown, this would make her runner-up at Miss USA, New Jersey’s Chhavi Verg, the first woman of Indian descent to hold the Miss USA title. The USA has had a lot of tragedies recently and even shortly after it was announced that Las Vegas would be the venue for this year’s pageant, the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history occurred in Las Vegas on October 1 so there probably will be something done to honor the victims of this attack similarly to what was done during the 2012 Miss Universe pageant. But, being the pattern seeker I am, I noticed a very interesting pattern that supports a Miss Universe win for the USA in 2017. For you see, in 1973, the USA’s Marjorie Wallace won the Miss World crown then 7 years later the USA’s Shawn Weatherly won the Miss Universe crown in 1980. In 1990, the USA’s Gina Tolleson won the Miss World crown then 7 years later the USA’s Brook Lee won the Miss Universe crown in 1997. In 2010, the USA’s Alexandria Mills won the Miss World crown and here we are 7 years later with the USA’s Kára McCullough with a chance to bring the pattern to fruition and continue the trend of the USA winning the Miss Universe crown seven years after winning each of its Miss World crowns.

Will Kára sustain the pattern and become even more poetry in motion and capture a 9th Miss Universe crown for the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The Polished “Pole” Dancer is the Next Marie Curie??

Poland-Katarzyna WłodarekPoland-Katarzyna WłodarekSpeaking of Science, this year’s Polish representative is quite the achiever and could be exactly the type of titleholder that IMG wants. Poland is sending the second runner up from the Miss Polonia 2016 pageant, Katarzyna Włodarek who is a polished Pole who can even pole dance! But don’t you dare dismiss her for that talent because apart from her ability to be a Pole who can pole dance, the absolutely gorgeous Katarzyna is very accomplished as she is also a working doctor at a clinical hospital in Wroclaw where she currently lives. Poland has sent some incredible stunners over the years but they have never captured the Miss Universe crown. In fact, the closest they have come were two 3rd runner up placements in 1986 and 1989 and their most recent placement was in the semifinals for 2012 which was also a Miss Universe pageant held in Las Vegas. Katarzyna, who is passionate about instructing young doctors and is an avid researcher in the field of medicine, could very well be taking a note from Poland’s very own Marie Curie who is the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in the field of Physics back in 1903 and Marie would continue making history winning a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 making her the only woman in history to win two Nobel Prizes. Katarzyna has experience in pageantry as she has also competed in the Miss Model of the World pageant in China so could Katarzyna be Poland’s next big achiever? She has a very strong opportunity to capture a first Miss Universe crown for the land of Frédéric Chopin, where the mountains meet the sea, and of course, Marie Curie!

A Tale of Two Peters

Many eyes will be especially on two well-spoken women competing at Miss Universe this year that will surely have major crowd support and these two also have a common bond as they both have Peters as part of their last names: The Philippines’ Rachel Peters and the one who has Peters incorporated in her hyphenated last name is South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. Fresh off of hosting the 2016 Miss Universe pageant, the land where Asia wears a smile, the Philippines’ Rachel Peters is coming into this competition with a lot of pressure on her shoulders as the Philippines currently holds the longest streak in the Miss Universe semifinals placing 7 years in a row from 2010 to 2016 and 6 of those 7 years include placements in the top 6 and even include a win in 2015. Will Rachel keep the streak going for the pearl of the Orient or does it end here? The Philippines declined to host the 2017 Miss Universe pageant after just hosting the 2016 event so one can only wonder if this will be a determining factor. Philippines-Rachel PetersSouth Africa-Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters My friend Hernan also pointed out that it is quite common for streaks in the semifinals to end after 7 years. For example, at Miss Universe, the USA had a 7 year streak from 2003 to 2009 and Brazil had two 7 year streaks (1954 to 1960 and 1967 to 1973) and at Miss USA, Alabama placed from 2010 to 2016 and Tennessee also at Miss USA from 2006 to 2012 and Texas also at Miss USA from 1992 to 1998 so will the streak stop here or will Rachel be able to overcome this?? Rachel holds a business degree and worked in the events industry and the tropical haven of Asia has won 3 Miss Universe titles thanks to Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margarita Moran in 1973 and Pia Wurtzbach in 2015.

Mandela’s rainbow nation of South Africa is being represented by Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters who is another well-spoken and heavy favorite for this year’s Miss Universe title. South Africa hasn’t won the Miss Universe crown since Margaret Gardiner captured their only crown in 1978 so will it finally be time for South Africa again? Demi-Leigh certainly has already had quite the eventful reign. In June, she participated in a video to promote women’s self-defense in the case of a carjacking and was allegedly carjacked herself only a few days later and escaped which prompted her to make more self-defense videos and she would then form her own charity called 'Unbreakable' and there was another controversial episode where she was criticized for wearing gloves when serving black children, many of whom were affected by HIV, in a soup kitchen in Soweto but she emphasized that the gloves were worn on the advice of management for sanitary reasons but would later return to be photographed with the children without wearing gloves. There’s a lot of stories here which make Demi-Leigh one of the more interesting characters competing for the Miss Universe crown so will the dream of winning it all become a reality for her? There is a pattern that supports her being 1st runner up though as my friend Hernan points out. Brazil was 1st runner up in 2007 (39 years after their win in 1968), Philippines was 1st runner up in 2012 (39 years after their win in 1973) and Spain was 1st runner up in 2013 (39 years after their win in 1974) so is Demi-Leigh about to be 1st runner up in 2017 (39 years after win in 1978)?? Or will Demi-Leigh break the pattern and take it all??


Venezuela-Keysi SayagoVenezuela-Keysi Sayago All alone, I sit home by the phone waiting for you, Baby! Keysi Sayago represents the international pageant powerhouse nation of Venezuela which as a country has experienced dire conditions over the last few years but this hasn’t stopped them from being a dominant force in the international pageant scene. Venezuela has a high standard in pageantry like no other country and Keysi hopes to bring Venezuela back in a big way after shockingly missing the semifinals last year. Venezuela had an incredible run placing in the top 6 for 13 years in a row from 1991 to 2003 which is an unmatched record and they have a whopping 7 Miss Universe crowns (1979, 1981, 1986, 1996, 2008, 2009 and 2013) making them second only to the USA who has 8 Miss Universe crowns and the Miss Universe pageant is, of course, American-owned… Venezuela is still the only country to have won the Miss Universe crown two years in a row (2008 and 2009). The Miss Venezuela organization knows that IMG wants an achiever and Keysi certainly is one as she works as a mechanical engineer in the National Experimental University of the Armed Forces in Los Teques, Miranda. As part of her video package, I’m sure Keysi will be shown helping people in her nation in turmoil and observing and using her engineering skills to improve the situation. Coming from a humble background, Keysi is the third Afro-Venezuelan woman to win the Miss Venezuela title succeeding Carolina Indriago in 1999 and Jictzad Vina in 2006. My friend Hernan also points out a pattern supporting a win for Venezuela this year. When Las Vegas hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2012, USA won, then when Las Vegas hosted again in 2015, Philippines won and they were also 1st runner in 2012 so the next pageant in Las Vegas would be won by the 2012 2nd runner up which was Venezuela so is this good sign for Keysi?? And in the following two Miss Universe pageants held in Las Vegas will the next Miss Universe be from Australia (the 3rd runner up in 2012) and then the next year in Vegas won by Brazil (4th runner up in 2012)?? Will Venezuela also be able to finally catch the USA and win an 8th Miss Universe crown? Keysi certainly hopes the judges will say-say-say so!

I Want Iraq and Roll All Night

Iraq-Sarah Abdali IdanIraq-Sarah Abdali IdanAnd Party Every Day! Iraq is back at the Miss Universe pageant for only the second time in the pageant’s history. Iraq’s first Miss Universe participant was Wijdan Burhan El-Deen Sulyman who competed in 1972 when the Miss Universe pageant was held in Puerto Rico that year. Sarah Abdali Idan was selected as Iraq’s representative at Miss Universe just recently on November 1 and was crowned in a special ceremony held at Miss Iraq Organization headquarters in Qadisiya, Baghdad by outgoing titleholder, Shaymaa Qasim who was originally supposed to compete at Miss Universe 2016 but withdrew for personal reasons. Earlier this year, Vian Sulaimani was originally supposed to compete at Miss Universe but she was dethroned as Miss Universe Iraq after violating the contract rules after she was found to have been previously married. As a result, a casting was held and Sarah was selected. Iraq’s return to the Miss Universe pageant is certain to garner much media attention seeing how this nation has been in the headlines for many years now and Sarah has the opportunity to educate the Universe about the beauty of her people. Sarah is 27 years old and stands 5'7" tall. She was raised in Baghdad but her parents originate from the city of Hillah in Babylon. Sarah is quite talented and works as a singer, songwriter and musician and she graduated with a degree in performance arts. Sarah is also the reigning Miss Iraq USA and with her connections to the United States, this can only help her in her quest for the Universal crown. Sarah worked with the American led coalition forces in Baghdad following the invasion of Iraq in 2003 which is how she got the chance to travel to the United States. A placement from Iraq would surely be beneficial to educate the masses about the people of this country and to hopefully improve their perspective. Will stunning Sarah not only get Iraq’s first semifinalist placement in Miss Universe history but possibly a win that would surely garner huge international headlines???

The Measure of a Woman

Peru-Prissila HowardPeru has already crowned their titleholder for 2018, Romina Lozano, so she will have lots of time to prepare and we will probably be talking about her next year but in the meantime, the land of the Incas hopes to place for a second year in a row in the semifinals with their 2017 representative, Prissila Howard. Romina was crowned only one month after Prissila was officially appointed as Peru's representative. Prissila was the 1st runner up to last year's Miss Peru, Valeria Piazza. The recently concluded Peruvian pageant did something very unique and notable. When asked to state their measurements, rather than giving their body measurements like 90-60-90 in centimeters or 36-24-36 in inches, the contestants broke tradition by stating gender-violence statistics to protest the country’s record on these statistics which is timely and relevant given the number of sexual harassment cases that have been featured in the media recently and even gave birth to the #MeToo campaign. For example, one contestant would state, “My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: More than 70 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment.” I have a strong feeling that IMG will smile on this daring step forward as it takes attention away from irrelevant statistics like one’s body measurements and puts the focus and raises awareness of problematic statistics and this groundbreaking aspect of the Miss Peru pageant was prominently featured in international headlines and this could result in another placement for Peru. Prissila also has previous pageant experience winning the Miss Teen del Pacifico 2010 title and she also placed in the top 10 at Miss Grand International 2016 which coincidentally was also held in Las Vegas. Because France won the Miss Universe title last year, Peru now currently holds the distinction of being the country that has had to wait the longest for a repeat win since their only win was way back in 1957 thanks to Gladys Zender. Peru also hosted the 1982 Miss Universe pageant and former Miss Peru, Jessica Newton and semifinalist at Miss Universe 1987 has done a great job as national director of the Miss Peru pageant inviting Miss Universe titleholders for her pageants and maybe the land of Machu Picchu could be a repeat host in the future. How will Prissila measure up??

World on Fire

Puerto Rico-Danyeshka HernandezHaiti-Cassandra Chery More than we can handle. A lot of natural disasters and hurricanes have recently ravaged a lot of Caribbean nations and parts of the United States and one central nation that has made headlines due to this is the Shining Star of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico. The island nation has won a whopping 5 Miss Universe crowns (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2006) and they have even hosted the Miss Universe pageant 3 times (1972, 2001 and 2002). However, many of the islands are still in a state of disarray with numerous areas without electricity and clean, running water several weeks later. Many high profile celebrities have created fundraisers after Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused much destruction throughout the Caribbean in September 2017. Representing San Juan, Danyeshka (Danna) Hernández won the right to represent Puerto Rico at Miss Universe so a lot of eyes will be on her to see if the story associated with hurricanes and the difficulties with getting aid to them will help her or perhaps other Caribbean nations. Danna has some previous pageant experience placing in the top 7 of Miss Teen Americas 2013. She works as a model and studies Communications, Public Relations and Marketing at the University of Puerto Rico. Another one of those decimated nations many people are eyeing is Haiti with their stunning representative, Cassandra Chéry who, like Danna, also is a model studying Communications. Cassandra is following on the heels of a 1st runner up placement at the 2016 Miss Universe pageant thanks to Raquel Pélissier who matched the 1st runner up placement obtained by Haiti’s Gerthie David back in 1975. Many natural disasters have wreaked havoc on Haiti in recent years particularly the catastrophic 2010 earthquake of which Raquel spoke during the last Miss Universe pageant. Will Cassandra, with her amazing fresh looks and brilliant smile, use all these aspects to her advantage and perhaps be getting Haiti its first win??

So as of November 12, Tom’s tentative top 5 for Miss Universe 2017 are:
1. Thailand
2. South Africa
3. Venezuela
4. USA
5. Poland

Will my top 5 change over the coming weeks or will they stay the same? I will post a second round of prethoughts on November 20 where I will comment on all of the delegates and then after viewing the preliminary swimsuit and gown competitions which are also being held on November 20, my final predictions for Miss Universe 2017 will be posted on November 23.

Of course, tell everyone to watch Miss Universe 2017! The big night is November 26 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on FOX!




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP