THOUGHTS OF MISS UNIVERSE

2017




Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, Miss Universe 2017 with Rolene Strauss, Miss World 2014Margaret Gardiner, Miss Universe 1978It took 39 long years but Mandela's rainbow nation has finally captured its second Miss Universe crown thanks to South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. In June, Demi-Leigh participated in a video to promote women’s self-defense in the case of a carjacking and then was 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' so this story put her over the top and was presented in a dramatic fashion during the telecast. Demi-Leigh was a favorite from the beginning. Recently, South Africa won the 2014 Miss World crown thanks to Rolene Strauss but the runner-up at Miss South Africa was sent to Miss Universe and even though the Miss World and Universe pageant coincided this year again, South Africa opted to send their winner to Miss Universe rather than the runner-up this time around and it paid off. South Africa's participation in Miss Universe is quite storied as they won their first Miss Universe crown in 1978 thanks to Margaret Gardiner but the Apartheid era led to a ban on South Africa's participation from 1985 to 1994. Leticia Snyman placed as 1st runner up in 1984 and the next Miss South Africa 1985 (Andrea Stelzer) who was affected by this ban ended up country-hopping and Andrea would win Miss Germany 1989 and place in the top 10 at Miss Universe 1989. After Apartheid fell, the Miss World pageant was held in South Africa from 1992 to 1995. In 1995, during the only Miss Universe pageant to be held in Africa in the country of Namibia, South Africa would return to compete again at Miss Universe and would place in the top 10 thanks to Augustine Masilela. Now Demi-Leigh can share her story with the world as Miss Universe 2017 and can use her message to empower women which is right in step with the IMG era of pageantry. This year also saw the return of the Mikimoto Miss Universe crown that was used from 2002 to 2007 and it has returned this year after a fall-out with DIC who made the crowns used from 2014 to 2016 after DIC allegedly failed to make two sponsor payments. I think a lot of people prefer the Mikimoto crowns over the DIC crowns anyway so this is a welcome change. A lot of people likened the DIC crowns to french fries rather than the New York skyline.

This year, the formatting was different in how the semifinalists were selected as they were grouped by region (the Americas, Europe and Africa/Asia Pacific) with 4 from each region advancing to the top 16 plus 4 wildcard spots so while this method may not necessarily feel fair if the best of the best happen to come from one region of the world, it does guarantee some equal representation. There have been years where a continent was shut out such the 1995 Miss Universe pageant where no European delegates placed and in the 2009 Miss Universe pageant where no Asian delegates placed. This change seems to have garnered mixed reactions but after seeing how it worked during the telecast, I understood the need for it. I have written in the past about how the judging panel tends to come largely from the Americas so this method does seem to help eliminate bias but at the same time, some deserving delegates may be left out over others who are chosen but I suppose that was what the wildcard spots were about. It wasn’t exactly clear how these spots were chosen though but I heard it was a combination of the preliminary scores, the organization’s feedback and the online vote to determine the semifinalists. The host Steve Harvey didn’t make a mistake this year but as expected during the night, he did allude to the 2015 incident when he mistakenly announced the runner-up as the winner only to have to correct it minutes later. Ashley Graham seemed more lively this time as backstage commentator especially when interacting with color commentators, Carson Kressley and Lu Sierra who all did a decent job. I loved Carson’s little quips similarly to those that he incorporated in 2006 like ‘Are you a little cold? Because I’m feeling Chile!’ I do miss the days when a former winner or participant would do color commentary but I appreciated that we got some backstage banter at least. Having a mixed panel of judges for both the preliminaries and the finals seems to have been permanently implemented for now and I think it works. Two judges served on both panels (Wendy Fitzwilliam-Miss Universe 1998 and Megan Olivi) and the remaining preliminary judges were: Morgan Deane, Isabelle Lindblom, Cecilio Asuncion and Bill Pereira. For the finals, they were replaced by: Pia Wurtzbach-Miss Universe 2015, Ross Mathews, Jay Manuel, Lele Pons and Farouk Shami, founder of CHI which is one of the main sponsors of the pageant.

Miss Universe 2017 had the most delegates competing ever in its history. 92 delegates competed with 3 countries making their debut (Cambodia, Laos and Nepal). Originally, there were going to be 93 delegates but Sierra Leone’s delegate had Visa issues and couldn’t make it. This record surpasses that previously held by the 2011 and 2012 Miss Universe pageants which each had 89 delegates competing. Sadly, the U.S. ratings for this pageant were the second lowest in the pageant’s history with 4.4 million viewers which was just above the lowest rated 2013 Miss Universe pageant which had 3.8 million viewers but that was also a tape-delayed pageant held in Russia and aired on a Saturday night. Since the lowest rated Miss Universe pageants were both held in November, that month will likely be off their radar for future pageant dates but the pageants held in December (2012 and 2015) had over 6 million viewers so it seems likely that the 2018 pageant might be held in December 2018 but this isn’t confirmed yet of course. Or will they hold it in January 2019 as seems to have been the trend for the past few years??

ACTUAL TOP 16:

MY PREDICTIONS:

Winner=South Africa-Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters

Winner=Thailand-Maria Lynn Poonlertlarp Ehren*

1st Runner Up=Colombia-Laura González

1st Runner Up=Peru-Prissila Howard

2nd Runner Up=Jamaica-Davina Bennett

2nd Runner Up=USA-Kára McCullough*

FINALISTS (alpha'l):

FINALISTS:

Thailand-Maria Lynn Poonlertlarp Ehren

Nepal-Nagma Shrestha

Venezuela-Keysi Sayago

Venezuela-Keysi Sayago*

SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l):

SEMIFINALISTS:

Brazil-Monalysa Alcântara

Philippines-Rachel Peters*

Canada-Lauren Howe

Colombia-Laura González*

Philippines-Rachel Peters

France-Alicia Aylies

Spain-Sofía del Prado

Great Britain-Anna Burdzy*

USA-Kára McCullough

South Africa-Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters*

QUARTERFINALISTS (alpha'l):

QUARTERFINALISTS:

China-Roxette Qiu

Mexico-Denisse Franco

Croatia-Shanaelle Petty

Puerto Rico-Danyeshka Hernández

Ghana-Ruth Quashie

Spain-Sofía del Prado*

Great Britain-Anna Burdzy

Poland-Katarzyna Włodarek

Ireland-Cailín Toíbín

Indonesia-Bunga Jelitha Ibrani

Sri Lanka-Christina Peiris

Iraq-Sarah Abdali Idan

 

ALTERNATES: Croatia*, Haiti, Canada*, Honduras, Jamaica*

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: India, Egypt, Panama, Iceland, Australia

 

* = made actual top 16



Steve Harvey with Japan's Momoko Abe showing her winning national costumePanama won the Congeniality Award and Japan deservingly won the National Costume award. Her method of presenting during the actual National Costume Competition was much faster and dramatically that the audience squealed with delight compared to how it was done during the telecast alongside Steve Harvey when she converted her Samurai costume into a kimono and her sword changed to a fan. The national costume competitions and preliminaries were pre-taped and were only made available via webcast on the day prior to the pageant. The reasoning behind this was likely for security reasons. Iraq was edited out of the preliminary swimsuit competition because she wore a bikini and there was news that her family was receiving death threats because of that. Sigh. Then, there was an issue with France using the Olympic logo as part of her national costume since Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympic Games but apparently using that logo was a no-no. Both France and Iraq were part of my predictions for the 16 semifinalists but these faux-pas could have been cutting grounds. I appreciated though that they gave a special segment to show Iraq’s story but after they showed that, I knew that she wouldn’t place which was the main reason why I put her in my predictions to begin with. Ah well. How did I do with my predictions? Well, I picked 8 of the top 16 plus 3 alternates (Croatia, Canada and Jamaica). The 5 ladies that missed my list were: Brazil, China, Ghana, Ireland and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka, Ireland and Ghana were all mentioned in my next tier below honorable mentions. China was a total surprise whereas Brazil was favored by others but I just didn't see it at all with her that I didn't even give her a next tier mention... I was expecting surprises with this new format but there are always surprises anyway and while I tried to pick some delegates that weren't on other people's lists, of course, they would have to choose some other surprises. Bless. What happened to my 8 ladies that didn’t place? Well, let’s start with Peru’s Prissila Howard who really impressed me during preliminaries as she was very strong in all aspects of the competition including her online video demonstrating strong interview skills but there was no indication that she spoke English which is more of a job requirement for Miss Universe these days so inability to speak English could be cutting grounds. Prissila was an appointed winner, being runner-up to last year’s Peruvian delegate, Valeria Piazza who placed among the top 13 and the Miss Peru pageant for 2018 has already been held and during that pageant, the delegates stated their measurements as gender-violence statistics rather than irrelevant body measurements and it made headlines but perhaps this may work out for the next Miss Peru, Romina Lozano, so we’ll see how she does next year. Next up was one of the three countries debuting in this year’s pageant, Nepal who was tall, striking and well-spoken so I thought she would make an impact. Sure, she could have done with better gowns but she worked hers well but a notable incident with her was that she fell during the preliminary swimsuit competition after the judges scored her so I thought she could pull off a Miriam Quiambao (Miss Philippines 1999 who fell during the preliminary gown competition during Miss Universe 1999 but used it to get to 1st runner up that year). Next up was France who was on many lists and was considered an early favorite but I heard that her main failing was that she didn’t bother to learn English even though she was even Miss France for almost a year even before her predecessor, Iris Mittenaere also from France was crowned Miss Universe 2016. I didn’t really care much for her and only included her in my list because she was on practically every other one I saw and as mentioned earlier, the use of the Olympic logo for her costume could have been frowned upon. Next was Mexico’s Denisse Franco who became the first Mexican delegate to not place at a Miss Universe pageant held in Las Vegas. Mexico was the only country to place in all 5 previous Miss Universe pageants held in Las Vegas and they even won both of their Miss Universe crowns in Las Vegas (1991 and 2010) so this was a major shock. You could even hear the loud Mexico chants prior to the last semifinalist, China, being announced. Mexico’s first Miss Universe, Lupita Jones, is the national director for her country and there was a rumor circulating that she may have been badmouthing Denisse to the organization but I don’t believe that. I actually wasn’t surprised by her exclusion as she didn’t have the strongest body and her English speaking ability may have been limited. Next was Puerto Rico which was very much in the headlines recently due to the devastating effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria so I thought Danna’s story of helping her people would be highlighted and her body and presentation was very good but she wasn’t as strong facially so it was another year out for Puerto Rico. Even though the Shining Star of the Caribbean has won 5 Miss Universe crowns, they have missed the semifinals four years in a row now last placing in 2013 which is the longest absence period for them in the semifinals since the 5 year stretch from 1988 to 1992 but was succeeded by a win in the following year. Poland was next on my list who was one of my early favorites as she was such a natural beauty and I thought they would appreciate that she is a doctor but she was one of the serene beauties that didn't have such a loud presentation and she seemed somewhat quieter and reserved so unfortunately she wasn’t one of the surprises. Indonesia was next and they had a four year streak in the semifinals that was broken this year. Indonesia has never advanced past the first round whenever they placed which I found frustrating and I put her in my list at the last moment because others felt strongly about her. Finally, Iraq was the most newsworthy delegate competing this year and I think people wanted to see her in the competition even if she wasn’t the strongest especially since they throw in surprises all the time but they did have the special segment for her so at least she got that. I felt foolish also since I should have seen South Africa’s win coming as the signs were all there as Demi-Leigh’s story regarding the carjacking was too powerful to be denied and when they showed her video after she was announced in the top 10 presented in dramatic fashion with the fades-to-black to take it all in and picture what she was saying, it became clear at that moment that the crown was hers. Demi-Leigh told the thieves to take the car but they pushed her back in the car but Demi-Leigh knew to punch the thief in the throat and that enabled her to get away. Sadly, a similar incident to this was how Venezuela’s Monica Spear (who was 4th runner up at Miss Universe 2005) was killed as she and her ex-husband, Thomas Berry, who were attempting to reconcile were on vacation with their daughter in Venezuela when their car stalled and thieves attempted to rob them but the couple resisted. Monica’s young daughter Maya was shot in the leg but survived but was sadly orphaned when her parents were killed that day on January 6, 2014.

I will say that the formatting of this pageant was much better than the 2016 pageant where there were either 2 or 3 delegates presented at a time for the swimsuit and gown competitions and it felt very rushed as did the introductions but this year, they were back to presenting one delegate at a time and the introductions were spaced out better so that the ladies got more airtime. I still miss the introductions with the ladies presented in their national costumes saying their name and country as was done in 2015 but this year was a definite improvement from 2016. The introductions were done by region to the songs: Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee/Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” for the Americas (by the way, the music video for ‘Despacito’ which is the top song of the year features Miss Universe 2006, Puerto Rico’s Zuleyka Rivera), Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” for Europe and K’naan’s “Waving Flag” for Africa/Asia Pacific.



Steve Harvey with South AfricaThe swimsuit competition song was “Instruction” by Demi Lovato. I don’t know if it was the lighting or the camera angles but when they did like a spin shot to view the ladies’ backsides, it was unflattering and gave the appearance of several girls appearing to have cellulite somehow. The first four finalists called were from Africa/Asia Pacific. First up was my winner, Thailand. She was one of two delegates who called Steve Harvey as Harvey instead of Steve which made me worry a lot but Steve didn’t address it which I thought was a tactful thing to do. I guess he looks more like a Harvey than a Steve, maybe?? Anyway, Thailand was asked what she wanted to do next after getting a business degree, working as a model and recording an album and she replied, ‘Well, Harvey! (cringes as she called him Harvey twice…) Hopefully to receive the great honor to become your next Miss Universe.’ This was a much easier question than what she got when she placed in the top 5. In swimsuit, I was surprised that she wore a one-piece since she wore a two-piece during preliminaries but nonetheless she rocked it with her amazing body with those long legs. Sri Lanka followed and she was also one who was favored because she is very photogenic. Steve asked her to name her 8 cats. She named 6 – Coco, Nameless, Bullet, Toothless, Mama Kitty and Kiki. Steve asked why Toothless was named Toothless and she said it was because he looks like the dragon of that name in the movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. For swimsuit, I knew she would be eliminated here as her body wasn’t quite up to Miss Universe standards which is why I only put her as a next tier delegate in my list but I was very happy that Sri Lanka finally placed after 62 long years since getting a 2nd runner up placement in 1955 when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon. Sri Lanka is often an ignored country but I’m glad that photogenic Christina did it for them. Up next was Ghana who I knew would excel in interview but the body and gown were not up to par so I put her also as a next tier delegate. Steve said when she won her national title she didn’t know if she would laugh or cry and she was asked what she would do if she won Miss Universe and she said she would laugh throughout, followed by a laugh and Steve followed up with, ‘But if I get the name wrong, I’m gon’ cry!’ alluding to the notable incident of 2015. Then South Africa was called and Steve asked her if she imagined what he might ask her. Demi-Leigh lightheartedly said that she was asked the whole week if she has a pet lion but the closest thing she has to that is her Yorkshire Terrier named Benji so it’s safe in South Africa and you can come on Safari. Demi-Leigh was great in swimsuit but my concern with her was her height but her story pulled her through. Height was also a concern for me for another winner, the USA’s Olivia Culpo who won Miss Universe 2012 which was also held in Las Vegas! Oh, the parallels!

Steve Harvey with CroatiaNext up was the group from Europe. The first European delegate called was Spain. A great delegate from this country. Steve asked her if there were people watching in Spain due to the time difference. She said actually that a lot of her supporters were in the audience and she hopes that people who may be watching the pageant would see this as a moment of unity for the Spanish people. Spain has been in the headlines recently due to talks about Catalonia potentially seceding so I’m glad she took that opportunity to diplomatically address that. In swimsuit, Spain’s body was phenomenal. Sofia had also won Reina Hispanoamericana 2015 and we could see why! Next up was Ireland who was more of a surprise but her ability to speak Gaelic which is a dying language in her country seems to have set her apart. Steve asked Ireland what the best advice her grandmother (who is her biggest fan) gave her was and she replied, ‘The best advice my grandmother has ever given me is you never fail until you give up.’ She was very concise but in swimsuit, she wasn’t among the better bodies in the group so it was clear that she would be eliminated in the first round. Next up was Croatia. When I was making my final predictions, I was debating for a long time whether or not to put Indonesia or Croatia in my list and I put in Indonesia because she was on more of other people’s lists than Croatia so I ended up making Croatia my highest alternate which ended up being the wrong move. Oh well! It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time! Croatia does have a similar backstory to Italy’s Denny Mendez in 1997 and Japan’s Ariana Miyamoto in 2015 as she is half-black on her African-American father’s side and says she experienced discrimination because of that so I figured that might pull her through. The girl is huge though as she was the tallest contestant this year at 6’1” and Steve is 6’2” so she practically dwarfed him when standing next to him since she was wearing some of the high heels. We gotta get you some more of the high heels as Todd Newton would say in 2001. Croatia’s height didn’t really make a difference in the swimsuit round as she was eliminated there. It was interesting that she straightened her hair also as it was curly during the preliminaries so perhaps she didn’t want to look too much like USA or Brazil. The final European spot went to Great Britain. I was so happy that Anna was chosen as she really is accomplished studying law and had a great story about sponsoring a child from India who was left horribly disfigured after her father spilled acid on her. The European delegates didn’t get much love in this edition of Miss Universe as only Spain advanced to the top 10 and the others were eliminated in the swimsuit round but I probably would have advanced Great Britain over Brazil. Anna was asked about self-defense skills which ties into South Africa’s carjacking story and this was a topic also brought up by Nia Sanchez, Miss USA 2014 when she was competing also. Steve asked her what advice she gives as a women’s empowerment coach to her group and she said they break boards with their bare hands and encourages women to find a move that you do and gets you through your fears if they get nervous. Anna also had a great body so I wish she had advanced to the next round.

Now it was on to the Americas and the first called from that group was Colombia. Colombia has now placed in the top 3 for four years in a row with a win in 2014, 2 1st runner up placements in 2015 and 2017 and a 2nd runner up placement in 2016. The only other country to place four consecutive years in the top 3 is Australia who did so from 1969 to 1972. Laura jokingly said to Steve, “You wanted to see me, right?” alluding to the notable incident of 2015 after which Steve said sarcastically that he is happy to see anyone from Colombia and started thanking God for that moment. He then asked her to give an Academy Awards style acceptance speech since she has memorized so many. She said, ‘This one goes to every single loser in the world because I know how big your dreams are. You know, I’ve been there but you just keep working hard and put so much passion in everything you do because you just might get the chance to stand in front of a thousand people and they’re screaming through their faces that you’re the one here. You’re a champion. Yes!’ Something about her just seemed a bit disingenuous but it was a good message. She probably could substituted the word ‘loser’ for something a little more sympathetic. Her body was good of course as Colombians are very well prepared for this competition so that was no surprise. Next up was USA who seemed very in control and started steering the conversation knowing that Steve was going to ask her some fluffy question and she was prepared with something to say. She mentioned the only woman to win two nobel prizes, Marie Curie and at that point, my jaw dropped because I mentioned Marie Curie during my first round prethoughts for Poland’s delegate who was among my picks being a doctor and comes from the birthplace of Marie Curie (Poland) and since Miss USA is a scientist she seized the moment to demonstrate her knowledge as Steve confessed he didn’t know what her fancy job description meant and she said she felt happy but wanted to give him a pop quiz asking him where Radium was on the periodic table. She went on to tell us that Radium was founded by the mother of radiochemistry, Marie Curie, and as a radiochemist she advocates for so many children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and women in leadership positions and that’s the mission of a Miss Universe. I also pointed out during my first round prethoughts that there was a pattern to support a win for the USA this year as the USA has always won Miss Universe 7 years after winning Miss World and the USA’s most recent Miss World win was in 2010 which pointed to a win at Miss Universe for the USA to sustain the pattern but alas the pattern was broken this year since Kára was eliminated before top 5 but this pattern might have given her more confidence. She also looked fit and fabulous during the swimsuit round and I like that she kept her curly hair. Steve Harvey with Canada Speaking of curly hair, the next delegate called up was Brazil who I thought was being overhyped but she did make it after all maintaining their 7 year streak in the semifinals. The difference between Brazil and USA though was that USA’s body was way better than Brazil who looked like she hasn’t worked out a day in her life. USA’s face was also better. Brazil was asked by Steve why she shaved her head bald for a year (as Steve is bald) to which she replied in a kind of slurred way that beauty is inside and while pointing at Steve says, ‘You are beautiful. You are beautiful.’ I also didn’t think Brazil’s English was that strong but she made it through. Finally for the Americas, we had Canada who was asked why she would like to swim with sharks. She said she was a strange child and would watch the movie ‘Jaws’ and feel bad for the shark rather than the people who were invading the shark’s habitat and became more afraid of doing an engineering degree than swimming in the Great White with sharks and then funnily said to Steve, ‘You look terrified right now!’ Did you notice how she managed to incorporate her engineering degree into the conversation? Lauren probably aced interviews as she also seemed to be very in control but very casual and conversational at the same time. She also had a decent body so it was no surprise that she would advance to the next round.

Finally, it was time for the wildcards to be announced and the first one called was Philippines much to the delight of much of the audience and they still have the longest current streak in the semifinals placing 8 years in a row now. Rachel was asked what it means to be representing one of the most enthusiastic nations when it comes to Miss Universe. She said it means the world, the universe rather, to her and that she can hear the whole Philippines cheering her on. Rachel’s body was on point also during the swimsuit round. Next with a triumphant return to the semifinals was Venezuela and Keysi unfortunately, like Thailand, also called him Harvey rather than Steve so it’s almost ironic that Thailand and Venezuela were the two eliminated in the top 5 round almost as if this was destined to be somehow. Keysi was also sent to Canada to study English during her reign and it paid off as the Miss Venezuela organization learned about English being more of a necessity after Mariam Habach missed the semifinals for Venezuela last year which is an extremely rare occurrence. Steve heard she worked 3 jobs to pay her way through college so he asked Keysi which one was worst and she replied, ‘Well, Harvey. (cringes again) I think, eh, no jobs was difficult when you work hard with calm in mind for your dreams and your goals and now, I can say that I am a mechanical engineer and also I’m representing my beautiful country, Venezuela.’ Keysi also carried on the tradition of Venezuelans having far superior bodies complemented with excellent catwalk skills. Next up was Jamaica. I regretted only having her as an alternate after seeing her in the competition as she was an amazing delegate. I thought the afro might have been seen as a gimmick similarly to Albania last year but she carried that 70s disco diva look confidently which a lot of people appreciated but the common question was how they would have crowned her with that hair if she won?? I think Steve was running out of ways to ask her how big that moment was and likened it to Usain Bolt until she replied with a little pose and the Jamaican term ‘Wah gwan (What’s going on), Las Vegas?’ prompting Steve to reply with a ‘Booyaka, booyaka.’ Jamaica has a decent body so she was a good choice and I’m glad that she got far in the competition. The island of reggae still has never won the Miss Universe crown though even though they have won Miss World 3 times. Finally, the wildcards concluded with the biggest shock of the night, China, which was a surprise that most people didn’t see coming. China is the world’s most populated country and I think that had something to do with this selection since she representing 18% of the world’s population but then so is India and she didn’t place so it just seemed so random. China was asked to demonstrate her acting skills by Steve and to cry on cue which prompted China to respond, ‘Come on, you are so demanding!’ and then she jokingly tried to negotiate with Steve that she would give a forced cry if she was to advance in the competition… which she didn’t. China does have a long, lean body but her overall look was more that of one of those unconventional models so she also had no chance of advancing to the next round even though she had personality and as Lu said throughout the night, personality counts. Of the wildcards, there were two Asians (Philippines and China) and two from the Americas (Venezuela and Jamaica) so Europe was also shut out here and the only European to advance to the next round was Spain so even with these changes, it seems to continue to be an uphill battle for the Europeans.



Fergie performs during the evening gown competitionI enjoyed the little chit-chat sessions between Steve and the judges. After the top 10 were announced, it was on to the evening gown competition accompanied by Fergie singing, ‘A Little Work’ to set the tone and I liked Carson and Lu’s commentaries for each delegate as she came out. 8 of the top 10 changed from their preliminary gowns to the finals. Only Spain and Jamaica kept the same gown. We started off with a parade of the other delegates which left the stage a little too slowly as Venezuela was on stage with a sensational white gown with silver designs on the bodice. She looked radiant but I think may have been annoyed that her moment was disrupted with other girls still on the stage. USA’s gown had a cheongsam look to it but with a cut-out in the middle to show off her cleavage. I think the cut-out may have been too sexy and I think at this stage, it would be ideal to go with something more tasteful. Philippines’ gown was decent. It reminded a lot of people of the gown worn by Mexico’s Kristal Silva during last year’s pageant. Canada followed in a gown that had a lot of designs on it but wasn’t really all that flattering but I did love the billowy white train similar to her preliminary gown which was also the gown she won her national title in as the white tulle fabric flows really nicely. South Africa’s gown was more sophisticated in a nude tone with silver designs and it was a vast improvement from that green velvet number she wore in the preliminaries that caused me to lower her on my list. Spain’s gown was nice. It was a shimmery white gown with feather detailing and the feathers seem to be a common trend amongst the Spaniards as I remember this from the gown worn by Spain’s delegate in 1993, Eugenia Santana. Brazil’s gown was a red, circle-shaped confetti monstrosity and you could tell that she was not comfortable wearing it either as she was shaking her hands out while she walked. Colombia’s gown was a grey, intricately designed, off-shoulder gown but I usually expect better from Colombians since their gowns are normally spectacular but this one was nothing to write home about. It just felt too ordinary. Thailand’s gown was a nice color. I liked the navy blue but the design of the gown seemed a little unusual on the bodice. It also showed off her cleavage in a unique way and I liked the draping down the back but she should kept her hair as she did in swimsuit as the slicked-back look seemed to have aged her. Finally, Jamaica looked like she was plucked right out of the 70s and a lot of people loved her retro look. Her yellow gown went well with her skin tone but this gown probably wouldn’t have worked well on anyone else as Davina carried it well especially with how she worked the capes and let them flow nicely.

The top 5 - Colombia, Jamaica, Thailand, Venezuela, South Africa After the top 5 were announced, it was time for questions that came from Facebook fans. South Africa was up first and was asked, “Women make up 49% of the global workforce. What do you believe is the most important issue facing women in the workplace today and why?” South Africa answered, “In some cases, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours and I do not believe that that is right. I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world. Thank you.” I think she gave the obvious answer but she stated it well and timed the pacing of her delivery well also and it is interesting that this debate is still ongoing as I remember Norway’s Mona Grudt talking about this very same issue during the 1990 Miss Universe pageant prior to winning her crown so it baffles me that this is still an issue over 27 years later. Venezuela was next and was asked, “Social Media has become a prominent factor in the way we perceive one another. Do you believe social media has had a positive or negative effect on the way we judge beauty?” Venezuela answered through her translator, “Social medias are what we make of them. We must use social media in a positive way and take away any criticisms. Behind every photo, every social media account, there is a good person, a human who can feel and we all deserve respect.” This was a very nice answer but it was sad that the judges chose not to advance her to the top 3. Next up was Thailand who was asked, “What do you think has been the most important social movement of your generation, and why?” Thailand answered, “I think the most important social movement so far is that, we are having an aging, aging population but, so the most important, uh, movement in our time is definitely the youth so the youth is the future. The youth is something that we have to invest in because they are the ones that are going to look after the earth that we live in. Thank you.” I thought this was a pretty difficult question for which to have an answer on the spot so she tried to save it with a ‘the-children-are-our-future’ speech but it didn’t work sadly so a potential winner lost it all here. Next Jamaica was asked, “Sexual harassment has been at the forefront of recent headlines. Why is it important for men and women to work together in tackling this issue?” Jamaica answered, “Sexual harassment is a form of abuse and no abuse should be tolerated whether in the workplace or in society. I believe that men and women should come together and be professional. Leave this act alone and anything that happens such as sexual harassment should be taken into the law and should be dealt with. Thank you.” This was a relatively easy question. The answer could have been a bit stronger but it was firm and delivered well. Finally, Colombia was asked, “Terrorism is one of the main threats facing our world today. As Miss Universe, you will lead discussions on current issues with communities around the globe. How would you go about explaining terrorism to a child?” Colombia answered through her translator, “I have never been a victim or a victim or a family member of terrorism. I cannot really explain how it feels to be one of them. But if I had the opportunity to speak to a child, I would tell him that, ‘Please. Your generation and my generation, we cannot be full of weapons. Please more books, more culture, more friendships and more love.’ Thank you.” This was a strong answer as is expected of those very prepared Colombians.

South Africa, Venezuela, ThailandNow it was on to the top 3, Jamaica, Colombia and South Africa, who were all asked the same question, “What quality in yourself are you most proud of and how will you apply that quality to your time as Miss Universe?” Jamaica answered, “Thank you. The most quality that I’m most appreciative of is my drive, my determination. I am the founder of a foundation that spreads awareness for the deaf community and this platform is such a great platform to just let persons know that these persons need opportunities and need equal opportunities as those in society and so Miss Universe competition will be the platform for me to use this foundation to spread awareness for all the deaf people around. Thank you.” Colombia answered, “I am incredibly passionate about everything I do. With compassion, I have discipline. With compassion, I put my whole self in every situation that I work at. I’ve done this as an actress. I’ve done this as Colombia and I do not doubt that I would do this as Miss Universe.” Finally, South Africa answered, “As Miss Universe, you have to be confident in who you are as an individual and Miss Universe is a woman that has overcome many fears and by that, she is able to help other women overcome their fears. She is a woman that nothing is ever too much to ask for and I think that is exactly who I am. Thank you.” I think all three ladies gave respectable answers. When I was watching this with some friends, we thought South Africa and Jamaica were amazing and just wanted Colombia to go away as we found the other two more endearing. After the final look to Rachel Platten singing, “Broken Glass” and Iris Mittenaere looking wonderful as she did her farewell walk becoming the first European to serve a full term as Miss Universe since Norway’s Mona Grudt back in 1990 and of course, Russia’s Oxana Fedorova was dethroned in 2002 so this was a long time coming not only for France but all of Europe. Finally, the second runner up was announced as Jamaica which immediately prompted boos from a disapproving audience similarly to what was done in 2014 when Jamaica was announced as 4th runner up when she was also heavily favored then. Even at the finale, while some girls went to congratulate South Africa. The top 3 - South Africa, Colombia, Jamaica A bunch of other girls circled around Jamaica to console her. Finally, Steve Harvey announced that South Africa was the new Miss Universe and didn’t announce that Colombia was 1st runner up and I’m sure they have stopped announcing the 1st runner up due to the notable mistake of 2015.

My friend Diego pointed out an interesting pattern regarding the last 4 Miss Universe wins. Colombia won 2014 (the last time they won was in ’58), Philippines won 2015 (the last time they won was in ’73), France won 2016 (the last time they won was in ’53) and South Africa won 2017 (the last time they won was in ’78) so it went 58-73-53-78. I thought that was an interesting criss-cross of the numbers there. My friend Paulo also pointed out that for 2014 - Colombia won Miss Universe, South Africa won Miss World, Philippines won Miss Earth and India won Miss Supranational and in 2017 - South Africa won Miss Universe, India won Miss World, Philippines won Miss Earth so if Colombia won Miss Supranational then the same countries would have won but Korea edged out Colombia at Miss Supranational and therefore wrecked the duplication of countries that won in 2014 winning international pageant titles this year. Finally, my friend Hernan pointed out a pattern, as posted in my first round prethoughts, that supported a 1st runner up placement for South Africa this year as there were 3 other occasions when a country that won was the 1st runner up 39 years later like: Brazil won in 1968 and was 1st runner up 39 years later in 2007. Philippines won in 1973 and was 1st runner up 39 years later in 2012 and Spain won in 1974 and was 1st runner up 39 years later in 2013 but Demi-Leigh broke the pattern and instead of being the runner-up 39 years after South Africa’s win in 1978, Demi-Leigh won it all so congratulations to South Africa. I predicted a win for them in 2005 and 2007 and although it didn’t happen then and even many other times that it could have happened as South Africans have consistenly been strong in interviews and the Miss South Africa productions have been remarkable and fabulous and I am very happy that the crown is finally theirs and Demi-Leigh will surely do a phenomenal, commendable job as Miss Universe 2017.







 The Prethoughts - Miss Universe 2017


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Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP