Irina Antonenko, Miss RussiaBut I was so sure!! So it turns out that the woman I highly praised, Russia's Irina Antonenko didn't easily take the Miss Universe crown after all. In fact, she was eliminated in the swimsuit round to finish in 11th place! Oh, the agony! It just goes to show the randomness of pageants and how at a different time on a different night with a different set of judges in a different venue, the results could have been completely different. Irina has a promising career ahead of her anyway as I think she was a tremendous find. For those who followed my prethoughts of the pageant, you would know how much I adored Irina and thought she would ease her way to the crown and be a Miss Universe for the ages much like Russia's first Miss Universe, Oxana Fedorova in 2002. But alas, in spite of 'looking' perfect, on the world stage, it's really important to have energetic presentation skills perhaps because that makes you even more interesting to look at and catch the attention of the onlookers. But then the thought occurred to me... Should someone who could roll out of bed looking perfect even have to 'try', so to speak? Irina was often described as the 'effortless' beauty but what she lacked was the in-your-face presentation skills that many other delegates had. But do these big on-stage movements sometimes distract the judges from recognizing true beauty? I find a lot of the Latin delegates possess the skill of presenting well on-stage because those countries seem to have a larger following when it comes to pageants than European countries. Although Europeans made up 7 of the 15 semifinalists, only Ukraine made it to the top 5, reminiscent of last year when 9 of the top 15 were Europeans and only Kosovo made it to the top 5 and all 3 Latin delegates in last year's top 15 made the top 5. This year for a third year in a row, a Latin girl, Mexico's Ximena Navarrete captured the crown which really shows that the Latins know the importance of powerful stage presentation. I also pondered whether or not Russia will ever win Miss Universe again due to the fact that Russia's first Miss Universe in 2002 was notably dethroned a few months after winning her title. In 1996, Venezuela's Alicia Machado was also one who almost lost her title due to her weight gain during her reign but she kept the title and Venezuela didn't win the crown again for another 12 years. It has been 8 years since Russia won the crown but still the thought lingers in my mind whether or not many of the European delegates understand that Miss Universe is a JOB that requires relocating to New York for a year, not just a beauty title. And I wonder if the Oxana Fedorova incident makes them hesitant to crown another Miss Russia. Prior to Oxana's win, Europe hadn't won the crown since 1990 with Norway's Mona Grudt. That means it has been a full 20 years since Europe had a full-term Miss Universe! Two Mexican Miss Universes: Lupita Jones, Miss Universe 1991 and national director for Mexico kisses the new Miss Universe 2010, Ximena Navarrete Mexico has now captured its second Miss Universe crown thanks to Ximena Navarrete. The director of Nuestra Belleza Mexico also happens to be Mexico's first Miss Universe, Lupita Jones. I saw that Lupita was overcome with emotion as Mexico finally won its second Miss Universe title 19 years later in Las Vegas which was also where Mexico won its first Miss Universe crown. 1991 was also the first year that Las Vegas hosted Miss Universe. I was told by some people that they thought Lupita became the director of Miss Mexico so she could sabotage Mexico's chances of ever winning again claiming Lupita wanted to be Mexico's ONLY Miss Universe but looking at Lupita's reaction to Ximena's win should put those rumors to rest. I did mention that Ximena does bear a slight resemblance to Lupita. I should also mention that Lupita as well as Osmel Sousa (Venezuela's director) are both judges on Nuestra Belleza Latina which is a reality show with a similar format to American Idol in search of the most beautiful Latina women so I kind of wonder if the prominence of that show has some tie-ins to the recent Miss Universe successes for Venezuela and Mexico.

The night began with the delegates introducing themselves and dancing to the awesome song "Commander" by Kelly Rowland featuring David Guetta. The hosts were Natalie Morales who did a great job at Miss USA and also did a great job at Miss Universe supporting former frontman of 80s rock band Poison, Bret "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" Michaels. Bret, of course, won this year's edition of Celebrity Apprentice after suffering a brain hemorrhage that could have taken his life and it was nice to see him win that. He had a few moments during the pageant when he was seen whispering sweet nothings in Natalie's ear when he probably should have been more focused on the task of hosting but Natalie really handled him well.

Then we narrowed the field from 83 to 15. For the 5th time in Miss Universe history, Miss USA failed to place amongst the semifinalists. Rima Fakih now joins Shauntay Hinton (2002), Kimberly Pressler (1999), Barbara Peterson (1976) and Leona Gage (1957-dethroned for being a married mother of two) as the only Miss USAs not to place at Miss Universe but it's even more shocking because USA was the host country!! Interestingly enough, Rima wasn't among my top 15 predictions this year at Miss USA similarly to how Kimberly Pressler wasn't also in my top 10 predictions for Miss USA 1999. Also, at the last minute in 2002, I decided to include Shauntay Hinton among my Miss USA predictions for that year. Every other Miss USA winner since I've been posting my predictions has been in my list of Miss USA predictions so maybe there's more to my predictions than I let on. Another disturbing shock was the exclusion of Venezuela!! Many wondered if Venezuela could do the impossible and get 3 winners in a row after already becoming the first country to win 2 Miss Universe crowns in a row last year but alas, it was not to be for Marelisa Gibson. Since 1991, Venezuela has made the top 6 every year at Miss Universe except the years when they were excluded entirely which were 2004, 2006 and now 2010. The only other year to have neither USA nor Venezuela in the semifinals was 1957! Like USA and Venezuela, India was also a powerhouse in the 90s but for a third year in a row, India failed to place but that wasn't a surprise this year. In terms of my predictions, I got 9 of the 15 semifinalists and 2 honorable mentions (Jamaica and Colombia). The 4 that I didn't include were Ukraine, Guatemala, France and Belgium. Ukraine and France were suspected by some people. Guatemala to a lesser extent but very few people I think saw Belgium as being a potential semifinalist. The 6 of my picks that didn't place were Venezuela, Canada, Slovak Republic, USA, Romania and Haiti. I thought Venezuela had the sparkle and energy to pull her through to the semifinals and I thought her gown was divine so I don't know what happened there. Or was it to prevent any hopes of the threepeat happening?? Last year, I pointed out that Venezuela was excluded in 1980 and 1982 which were both year's after Venezuela won Miss Universe. Last year, Venezuela became the first country to win Miss Universe two years in a row. My country's delegate Canada was the tallest contestant this year at 6'1" and I thought her performance in the preliminaries would be enough to pull her through but I did notice a lot of other people didn't seem to take a liking to her for whatever reason. Slovak Republic didn't place in spite of her gorgeousness but Czech Republic did. Hmmm... I wonder if there will ever be a year when we see both delegates from the former Czechoslovakia place. Perhaps she didn't do well in interview. After watching her close-up, she seemed a smidge ditzy but it was funny when she said she doesn't like a man who smells like onion. USA's Rima Fakih also was competing in a very competitive year but I did mention earlier that I thought Miss USA would be booed if Mexico didn't advance so I wonder if this exclusion was to spare her that heartache? Romania was a gamble pick for me. I was hoping she would be the surprise debut this year because even though her hair was drastically 80s, she was still a natural beauty and I also remembered that Romania debuted at Miss Universe 1991 (which was also in Las Vegas) but they have never placed so I thought this would be the year but surprises are always hard to pick. Finally Haiti was a story on many levels not only because of the earthquake that devastated her country earlier this year but also because of the murder of her mother. Haiti was the only one of the 6 first delegates to arrive in the U.S. to do some media interviews to not place. The other 5 (Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Australia) all did place. Another gimmick was to have some of the delegates pose topless prior to the pageant to stir up some controversy but they were either photographed with their hands covering their nipples or with their backs turned to the camera. Ireland, Japan, Trinidad and USA all did this but only Ireland placed of the four of them. Trinidad went fully exposed but the photos released were blurred at the nipples. All the countries in the top 15 this year did place before. Guatemala has only placed once before which was in 1984.



Winner=Mexico-Ximena Navarrete

Winner=Russia-Irina Antonenko*

1st Runner Up=Jamaica-Yendi Philipps

1st Runner Up=Philippines-Venus Raj*

2nd Runner Up=Australia-Jesinta Campbell

2nd Runner Up=Mexico-Ximena Navarrete*

3rd Runner Up=Ukraine-Anna Poslavska

3rd Runner Up=Ireland-Rozanna Purcell*

4th Runner Up=Philippines-Venus Raj

4th Runner Up=Venezuela-Marelisa Gibson



6. Albania-Angela Martini

Canada-Elena Semikina

7. Ireland-Rozanna Purcell

Puerto Rico-Mariana Vicente*

8. South Africa-Nicole Flint

Slovak Republic-Anna Amenova

9. Guatemala-Jessica Scheel

Czech Republic-Jitka Valkova*

10. Puerto Rico-Mariana Vicente

USA-Rima Fakih



11. Russia-Irina Antonenko

Australia-Jesinta Campbell*

12. Colombia-Natalia Navarro

South Africa-Nicole Flint*

13. France-Malika Menard

Albania-Angela Martini*

14. Belgium-Cilou Annys

Romania-Oana Paveluc

15. Czech Republic-Jitka valkova

Haiti-Sarodj Bertin


ALTERNATES:Uruguay, Switzerland, Japan, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Sweden, New Zealand, Jamaica*, Colombia*, Dominican Republic


* = made actual top 15

By the way, this commentary is brought to you by Farouk Systems, Makers of Chi and Biosilk... actually no it isn't... But a lot of people commented on how the pageant seemed more like a commercial for Farouk systems. It reminded me of some Miss Universe pageants in the 1960s when Lilt hair products was the sponsor. And all you needed to add is milk to the Lilt powder to create the foam to give you the exclusive Lilt wave! You could crush the hair and it springs right back into place!! We've come a long way since the 1960s and for the record, I refuse to ever put milk in my hair...

After the top 15 were announced, we were on to the swimsuit competition with the Viva Elvis Cirque du Soleil show in the background which was very Vegas appropriate. Originally, Orianthi from Australia was supposed to sing her song "According to You" for swimsuit but soon her name vanished from the list of performers so I wonder what happened there? First up was Puerto Rico looking just darling with the blond curls and a fun, frisky look. Ukraine looked old and her eyes are too far apart, almost alienish. I never understood her and I still don't. I liked Ukraine last year but this year's girl was a very different story for me. Mexico looked great and pulled off a really high score. Belgium's stomach looked slightly odd so it was no surprise that was eliminated here. Ireland really worked it. She received some pageant training in Colombia and it showed because she clearly knew how to carry herself with Latin flare. South Africa was good. She could have put more power in her presentation though. France was favored by others but not so much by me. To me, her nose looks long and her body was not so toned so she was also expected to be cut at this stage. Australia was just so warm and likeable with a beaming smile and nice body. Jesinta was a very good pick for Australia. Jamaica-me-crazy (as she was so affectionately called throughout the night) pulled off the highest score in this competition. She has a really visible six pack but I thought her legs looked a bit on the thicker side but I guess this was the look the judges wanted. I should point out here that Jamaica competed at Miss World 2007 where she was 1st runner up in the Beach Beauty Competition to Dominican Republic's Ada De La Cruz who competed at last year's Miss Universe and was also 1st runner up at Miss Universe just like Jamaica was this year! The heavenly Irina Antonenko of Russia followed and she looked so incredibly beautiful with that oh-so-perfect face and an amazing body but the judges were probably looking for more power in her performance. Sadly, Irina finished in 11th place. Albania really sexed it up with her great body. Colombia has a small waist and bigger legs and I thought her figure was somewhat similar to Jamaica's but Colombia suffered a lower score. Guatemala's a tiny girl but I officially hate her for stealing Russia's spot in the top 10. I should also point out that in my prethoughts, I talked about Miss USSR 1991, Yulia Lemigova, who when asked what she knew in English simply said, "I love you" which triggered an audience laugh BUT in 1984, Miss Guatemala placed in the top 10 and Bob Barker also asked her what she knew in English and guess what her response was?? You're right! She said, "I love you!" Okay, are they playing games with me or something?? Czech Republic followed looking absolutely stunning but she got the lowest score! I think that entire judging panel needs a good slap upside the head! Finally, Philippines showed the world that she knew how to present that long, lean body with tremendous impact. I've often praised Venus for her superb presentation skills and coupled with the support in the audience, Venus' confidence skyrocketed. Venus almost lost her crown when her citizenship came into question but she was proven to have citizenship of the Philippines and she kept her title and what a great competitor she turned out to be!

After the top 10 were announced, it was on the evening gown competition with music from John Legend. For someone who has won so many Grammys, I never hear his stuff on the radio so I guess he's just not my cup of tea. First up was Ireland wearing a dramatic improvement from the atrocious swimsuit gown she was pictured in earlier. She was favored by some other people but I think she would have done better if she kept her hair as it was in swimsuit. The last time Ireland placed was in 1998 and that year's titleholder Andrea Roche is now Ireland's director so she did an excellent job with helping Rozanna train for Miss Universe. When Rozanna said she felt strong and confident, I thought of Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000 who used those words in her final answer that year so perhaps there was observance of that pageant as part of her training. The way Albania described her gown was funny. "it's fitted to my body." But she was pure sexiness when she stepped out stage with the see-through cut outs but she was a classy sexy. Philippines followed in a flashy, silver gown that was very flowy and she worked it very well. Jamaica-me-crazy described the cut of her gown as flattering. It was an interesting gown. Some people were saying they thought the color didn't really suit her. Mexico worked it out with the red flowy gown that just opened up on stage that you couldn't miss her. She said the red color was significant to symbolize Mexico's 200th year of independence. Ukraine said she felt like an elejant princess in her gown. Elejant?? I'm just surprised she managed to squeak into the top 5. Okay, so who stole Puerto Rico's gown sabotaging her chances with this monstrosity of a gown? The gown she was describing had an opening for the legs unlike this pink nightmare we saw her wearing. She definitely should have worn her nice silver preliminary gown. I wonder if she changed it because Philippines was also wearing silver? In any case, it was no surprise that she received a disturbingly low score at this phase of competition. South Africa followed looking lovely in purple but for this panel of judges, you needed to have more power in your presentation. Guatemala's gown was nice but still she was lucky to place where she did. Even luckier actually because she wasn't originally supposed to go to Miss Universe. Alejandra Barillas was the original representative for Guatemala but it was rumored that she broke her foot and that Jessica Scheel was sent as a replacement. Finally, Australia followed in a pleasant gown that was a dramatic improvement from the green gown she wore in the preliminaries. Australia also won the congeniality award and Thailand managed to win two titles (Miss, I mean Photogenic and Best in National Costume).

Bret Michaels, Natalie Morales and Ximena NavarreteReaction to the winning momentThen the top 5 were announced: Mexico, Australia, Jamaica, Ukraine and Philippines. As expected, there were a lot of supporters in the audience for Mexico and Philippines and they went absolutely wild upon seeing them making the top 5. It came down to the final question: Mexico was up first and was asked Evan Lysacek's question of what effect unsupervised internet use is having on today's youth. Ximena began by greeting Las Vegas. Through the use of the interpreter, she said she believes the internet is a necessary, indispensable tool for the present time. We must be very careful and watch over what our children watch and see and we must be sure to teach them the values we learn as a family so they may use the Internet properly. She handled the question very well and gave a very good response. Australia, oddly enough, got a similar question to last year's Miss Australia so I'm sure she was very prepared for it. Niki Taylor said legislation banning certain kinds of religious clothing has caused controversy around the world. What role should a government play in determining such a personal preference? Jesinta started by saying that one of the greatest things we have is the freedom of choice and that night, they wore swimsuits designed by Tala and she said that fashion is freedom and she doesn't think the government should any say in what they wear because we can all make our own personal choices. YES! Jesinta gave a brilliant answer! Incorporating the sponsor Tala, the swimsuit designer was even more genius and I honestly thought Australia had it won after hearing that answer! A little bit of background on Tala Raassi who designed the swimsuits was that she was born in Iran and received 40 lashes after celebrating her sixteenth birthday because she took off her conservative garb and wore a mini dress and someone contacted the religious police. She wanted to be a swimsuit designer because they represent freedom to her. But honestly, I was so pleased with Jesinta's answer and it has become extremely rare in modern pageants that we hear great answers like this one. Following that, Jamaica-me-crazy received Tamron Hall's question where she said some countries still practice the death penalty and she asked if it is acceptable and why. Yendi said she believes life is a gift, a gift given by only one ultimate creator and that none of us as humans have a right to take a life. And she believes that, we as mere beings of the earth have no right to control what it is and there is only one to control it and that is God. Also, a great answer. She was very firm in her opinion and maybe she did a bit of rephrasing of the first part of her answer to draw it out a little and maybe the incorporation of the word God in the answer may or may not have been frowned upon, especially in our politically correct days but it was a very strong answer overall. Next up was Ukraine. Jane Seymour informed her that airports now used full body scanners and she was asked how she feels about it. Ukraine said, "I feel it's a very important question of security to avoid the type of catastrophes that we have already seen and we are well aware of them so if that helps us to save the lives of people then I am for it." I thought it was a fairly easy question and she gave a pretty textbook answer but it think it was clear to everyone that she had snuck into the top 5 and I still felt the first 3 answers were stronger. Stefania Fernandez, Miss Universe 2009 holds the Venezuelan flag And finally Philippines had the question that sealed her fate. William Baldwin asked her what was one big mistake she made in her life and what she did to make it right. Venus replied saying, "Thank you so much, sir, for that wonderful question. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Good evening, Las Vegas!" The crowd cheered but it sort of seemed at this stage that she was buying time with the formalities trying to conjure up a good answer. She then said, "You know what, sir? In my 22 years of existence, I can say there is nothing major-major, I mean, problem that I have done in my life because I am very confident with my family with the love that they are giving to me so thank you so much that I am here! Thank you! Thank you so much!" I was a bit heartbroken at this stage because it was obvious that the answer fell flat and that Venus would likely be 4th runner up in comparison to the other answers. I think she might have done better if she received a better question because I thought that question was the worst of the 5 that were asked. The others really allowed the other delegates to give good answers. Venus' answer has been parodied and there was much speculation about what could have been said but what's done is done. I think she was so overjoyed with making it to the top 5 and happy with the crowd support that she lost focus and had a head-in-the-clouds moment. I'm sure it was a dream come true to make it to the top 5 but still it is important to keep that composure to the very end.

Stefania Fernandez, Miss Universe 2009 crowns Ximena Navarrete, Miss Universe 2010Finally, Stefania Fernandez did her farewell walk as the reigning Miss Universe and she did something that no other Miss Universe has done during her farewell walk. She presented her country's flag. Some people questioned whether or not that was appropriate as after becoming Miss Universe you are representing the 'world' not just your own country but I didn't really think about it too much. I think she has a right to be patriotic and display her nationalism and loyalty to her country because she will need their love and support after her reign so maybe it was a smart career move on her behalf? Some alluded to the fact that it may have had something to do with Venezuela's exclusion from the semifinals this year after Venezuela had won Miss Universe two years in a row. Finally, the results were announced. As expected, Philippines was 4th runner up, Ukraine was 3rd runner up and then it came down to the final 3 when it was hard to figure out which way it would go. Australia was declared 2nd runner up which was disappointing to me and then it came down to Jamaica and Mexico. Jamaica has never won Miss Universe even though they have captured the Miss World title 3 times. Mexico had won once before and then Jamaica was declared 1st runner up and history repeated itself as Mexico won its second Miss Universe crown again in Las Vegas. I should also point out Jamaica placed 2nd in the preliminaries of 1991 with Kimberly Mais but she finished with a top 6 placement and now Jamaica's Yendi Philipps ended up placing 2nd in the actual competition for 2010 so this year somehow came full circle.

And so ends another year of pageantry and in 2010, the "M"s have it! Miss USA is "M"ichigan, Miss Teen USA is "M"aryland and Miss Universe is "M"exico!


 THE PRETHOUGHTS - Miss Universe 2010



Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP