Angola's Leila Lopes reacts to winning Miss Universe 2011 So I didn't quite see it at first but Leila Lopes, the new Miss Universe is growing on me. Leila is the fifth black (or at least part-black) woman to win Miss Universe succeeding Janelle Commissiong (1977), Chelsi Smith (1995), Wendy Fitzwilliam (1998) and Mpule Kwelagobe (1999). Double-digit years seem to favor black delegates winning the crown in 19"77", 19"99" and now 20"11". But they also seem to favor Sweden as they won the crown in 19"55" and 19"66". Leila is the fourth African to win the crown also following Margaret Gardiner (1978), Michelle McLean (1992) and Mpule Kwelagobe (1999).

I think in recent years, a recurring theme seems to be presenting itself which would be to 'expect the unexpected.' And it started in 2009, when the unlikely suspect, Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela who was representing the country of the then reigning Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza captured the crown when all odds were against her as prior to that win, no country had ever won Miss Universe two years in a row. Expect the unexpected. Then the next year, Mexico's Ximena Navarrete captured the Miss Universe crown and while a lot of people had her in their predictions lists, very few thought she would actually win the title. This year also, many people had Angola's Leila Lopes in their lists but very few predicted she would actually take the title. But looking back at it all, it seemed to make sense for Angola to win this year. Angola is Portuguese-speaking (lusophone) nation just like this year's host country of Brazil. Also, you may remember that there seem to be some eerie connections between Miss Universe over the last few years and the 2007 Miss World pageant. In 2009, Dominican Republic's Ada de la Cruz was 1st runner up at Miss Universe but when she competed at Miss World 2007, she was in the top 3 of that year's Beach Beauty competition. Then, in 2010, Jamaica's Yendi Philipps also made the top 3 of the 2007 Miss World Beach Beauty competition and she went on to place as 1st runner up at Miss Universe 2010. The final delegate in that top 3 of the Beach Beauty competition of the 2007 Miss World competition was the eventual winner of that pageant, China's Zi Lin Zhang. So naturally, it caused me to think that this year's Miss China Universe, who also happens to be named Zi Lin, would take the crown. BUT... the hidden character here is Angola because they placed as 1st runner up at Miss World 2007 thanks to Angola's Micaela Reis (who competed at Miss Universe 2007 and placed in the top 10). So could the pattern be that in the 2007 Miss World pageant, the 2nd runner up was Mexico (who won Miss Universe 2010) and the 1st runner up was Angola (who won Miss Universe 2011) and China, the winner of Miss World 2007 (will they win Miss Universe 2012??). Or should we... expect the unexpected?? Is it perhaps a pattern that isn't visible until the moment it occurs? If Australia had placed 1st runner up this year, all eyes would have been on them to win 2012 (since they were 4th in 2009, 3rd in 2010 and instead of 2nd this year, they made top 10, but can Australia find a way next year?). My friend Hernan has made a habit of digging up patterns. He pointed out the double-digit pattern to me and previously found a large number of patterns that prompted him to believe that USA would win this year, with things like she was called the 14th semifinalist at Miss USA and therefore would win Miss Universe 14 years after 1997 when Brook Lee last won Miss Universe for the USA. I'll point another pattern that I dug up regarding the USA. USA won Miss World 1973, then 7 years later USA won Miss Universe 1980. In 1990, USA won Miss World, then again 7 years later, USA won Miss Universe 1997. USA won Miss World 2010 so does this mean there is a win in the cards for the USA to take Miss Universe 2017?? I guess we'll have to wait 6 years regarding that to see if that one comes true. Or maybe not, because it seems that in most cases, once the pattern is pointed out, it jinxes it and therefore doesn't come true.

Hosts Andy Cohen and Natalie Morales with Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011 So in regards to this year's pageant staged in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This year had 89 delegates which is the most ever in the history of the Miss Universe pageant. It was the 60th anniversary and of course, there was a nice winning moments montage featured which I appreciated. Rather than flying to Brazil, most of the former Miss Universes attended a viewing party in Los Angeles organized by the same group that organized the fabulous Miss USA reunion earlier this year in Las Vegas. During the introduction, we heard that familiar song 'Mas Que Nada' which was also the song to which the delegates did a special dance number during the 1968 Miss Universe pageant which was won by Brazil. This year they chose to do live introductions, rather than pre-taped ones for the first time in several years and as expected with live intros, there were noticeable errors. For example, as Colombia and US Virgin Islands were doing their intros, the camera was on the delegate after them which resulted in some shifty camerawork and Costa Rica was incorrectly captioned as Croatia. Also, they didn't show the introductions with the national costumes. Instead, they decided to give more airtime to the sponsored Sherri Hill dresses that the delegates were wearing as was done from 2003 to 2005. Hopefully, this will be a lesson for them to do it right. Go back to pretaped introductions so that everyone gets equal airtime and wearing their national costumes. I heard Miss India's costume got stuck at customs and that she couldn't get it in time for the taping that they did do for the national costume competition which was featured in a video segment featuring the top 10 costumes and the winner was Panama (I will get to Panama later). We then met our hosts, Andy Cohen, who hosted Miss USA earlier this year and Natalie Morales who hosted Miss Universe last year. Both were very good hosts. I've taken a liking to Andy after he did a fine job at Miss USA. Natalie Morales showed off her skills speaking in Portuguese throughout the telecast so she really showed her value in being a host for the pageant. Andy, while substitute hosting on Live with Regis and Kelly recently revealed some backstage stories particularly targeting Miss Montenegro and Miss Sri Lanka saying that they were getting in his face during rehearsals and mocking him saying he was a short man. And he expressed his displeasure that Montenegro, of all people, won the Congeniality award. If this is true, I feel that those delegates may have just caused their countries to be labelled as troublemakers and may possibly never place again, not that they were contenders anyway but I'm really disappointed to hear that kind of thing happening because I think Andy didn't deserve that kind of treatment. This was probably why his enthusiasm also didn't seem to be at the same level at Miss Universe as it was at Miss USA. As color commentators, we had Shandi Finnessey, Miss USA 2004 and Jeannie Mai who did a decent job. I like how Shandi knows various stats and can rattle them off like I would do so I appreciated that. There were a few instances where she misspoke like when she said Venezuela was the host country instead of Brazil but it must be hard to keep it all together when there's so much going on around you.

The judging was really all over the map this year. There were only 3 male judges and 6 female judges and it was quite clear that they purposely didn't advance certain delegates who clearly had outstanding bodies over some delegates that seemed to have a bit more charm. Rest in Peace, Amparo Munoz, Miss Universe 1974 I find that female judges seem to look for different qualities which reflected how this year turned out the way it did. At Miss World 2005, the judging panel consisted entirely of former Miss Worlds and the winner of that pageant from Iceland was one of the worst winners of that pageant in its history. This year, I correctly predicted 12 of the 16 semifinalists, plus 3 alternates and one of those alternates was the winner (Angola). The other two were Panama and Netherlands. I just knew Panama was going to place so as stated in my prethoughts, I was very uneasy about leaving her out but I didn't know then who to take out. A lot of people actually had Angola and Netherlands in their lists but for some reason, I just didn't feel they were strong enough but I was very wrong about Angola since she pulled off the win. The only delegate who placed who wasn't in my list at all was the winner of the Internet vote, Portugal who also placed for the first time in history. Portugal hadn't competed since 2002 at Miss Universe so it was nice to see them finally place upon returning this year. It was interesting to note that I thought only one of the Portuguese-speaking nations of Angola, Brazil and Portugal would place but it turns out that all 3 of them placed!! As for the ladies in my list that didn't place. The first was Greece who with her modelesque looks performed very well and it was disappointing not to see her up there. Some speculate that it may have had something to do with her green shoes worn with a white evening gown and some thought her lipstick may have been too overpowering. Then there was the gorgeous Gillain Berry of Aruba who was tall and incredibly stunning. She had a noticeable trip during the preliminary gown competition and although her gown was so striking, they weren't forgiving and chose not to advance her. I should also point out that Angola also struggled with her gown during the preliminaries also. Next was Malaysia, who also competed previously in that notable Miss World 2007 pageant. I also felt that she easily had the best web interview but it was very clear that she was very much a Miss World type. You might have noticed that Trinidad & Tobago (who was 2nd runner up at Miss World 2008) seemed to alter her presentation to be a little more sexy and fun for Miss Universe and Malaysia stayed true to herself and still had a quiet, understated elegance with how she presented herself and she was easily among the most popular delegates with other predictors that didn't advance. Finally, Spain was a really vibrant, lively delegate. Her gown might have been deemed a bit risqué but I really wish she would have advanced especially since Amparo Munoz, Miss Universe 1974 and the only Miss Universe from Spain died earlier this year and I felt that a placement from Spain, especially from this worthy candidate would have been a fitting tribute.



Winner=Angola-Leila Lopes

Winner=China-Roseline (Zi Lin) Luo*

1st Runner Up=Ukraine-Olesia Stefanko

1st Runner Up=France-Laury Thilleman*

2nd Runner Up=Brazil-Priscila Machado

2nd Runner Up=Greece-Iliana Papageorgiou

3rd Runner Up=Philippines-Shamcey Supsup

3rd Runner Up=Venezuela-Vanessa Goncalves*

4th Runner Up=China-Roseline (Zi Lin) Luo

4th Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Viviana Ortiz*

FINALISTS (alpha'l)


Australia-Scherri-Lee Biggs

Colombia-Catalina Robayo*

Costa Rica-Johanna Solano

Costa Rica-Johanna Solano*

France-Laury Thilleman

Kosovo-Aferdita Dreshaj*

Panama-Sheldry Saez

Aruba-Gillain Berry

Portugal-Laura Goncalves

USA-Alyssa Campanella*



Colombia-Catalina Robayo

Malaysia-Deborah Henry

Kosovo-Aferdita Dreshaj

Spain-Paula Guillo

Netherlands-Kelly Weekers

Australia-Scherri-Lee Biggs*

Puerto Rico-Viviana Ortiz

Brazil-Priscila Machado*

USA-Alyssa Campanella

Ukraine-Olesia Stefanko*

Venezuela-Vanessa Goncalves

Philippines-Shamcey Supsup*


ALTERNATES: Panama*, Angola*, Netherlands*, Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chile, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Mexico, Israel


* = made actual top 16

The first competition was the swimsuit round set to a performance by Claudia Leitte singing "Locomotion Batucada". France came out first looking absolutely amazing. It's fitting that she is a surfer because she has a perfect beach body. I was very pleased with France this year. Next up was Kosovo, who also was very fit. Some people thought her hip bones protruded a bit too much but she was tall, fit and incredibly striking and she definitely should have advanced to the top 10. I was quite surprised that she didn't. Colombia was very cute and she also broke the trend this year because Colombia seemed to only be placing in even numbered years recently. I really wanted her to advance because her gown presentation would have made great television just because during preliminaries, her gown presentation was so wild and she was all over that stage and I would have loved to have seen it. China, my winner, was tall and striking and just a great find. I was so happy to see China do a complete 180 from last year and become a force to be reckoned with as the most populated country in the world should be. Yue Sai Kan is an excellent director and hopefully she will bring China a winner very soon. I don't think calling China as the 4th of the 16 semifinalists was a good thing to do since 4 is considered an unlucky number since it sounds like the Chinese word for death so perhaps this was a bad omen from the get-go. Next up was Angola, the eventual winner. I will say that I wasn't terribly impressed with her body. She was just okay but she does seem to have a glow about her. Australia looked great as they have adhered to that fun and fresh philosophy and she looked phenomenal. Puerto Rico followed and it must have been a disappointment for her not to advance on her birthday. She was fit and busty but the predominantly female judging panel clearly wasn't going for that so they eliminated her. Puerto Rico also had an amazing gown that would have been nice to have seen in the telecast. Brazil followed and she had that homecrowd advantage working for her. She was quite confident and had a decent body but a lot of people felt she went too far in the competition. Netherlands was thin and she was okay but I think she went as far as she was going to go. USA's Alyssa Campanella was heavily favored at Miss USA and had to face a really intense competition this year so unfortunately she didn't advance and this is actually the first time in history that USA hasn't made the top 5 for the 4th year in a row. This is the longest that USA has gone without a top 5 placement. USA last made the top 5 in 2007. Alyssa had to deal with the criticisms that some felt that she was too thin but her body is naturally that way and she still had that great indented waistline so she was slender, yet curvaceous. Up next was Ukraine who stumbled with her sarong and yes, I noticed Shandi used the 'it may be sarong but it feels so right' line that was also used in 2006 when she was color commentating with Carson Kressley. I didn't think Ukraine had one of the better bodies and I actually thought she should have been eliminated here. Next up was Panama, the political pick because her country was supposed to hold the 2013 Miss Universe pageant but how convenient, they decided to back out after getting a top 10 spot at Miss Universe. I guess they wouldn't settle for less than a win. She did win the national costume competition though. All I have to say is that Panama shouldn't even bother competing next year. Costa Rica followed with one absolutely, dynamite body. That girl was so incredibly fit and hot that she was setting that stage on fire. I dubbed her the Yanina Gonzalez of this pageant because like Miss Paraguay 2004, Johanna was a total find from a country that rarely places. Next up was the winner of the Internet vote, Portugal and I guess it's better that they didn't say who won the Internet vote because it exposed the judging panel to an extent since Portugal did advance to the top 10. I was really surprised that Portugal won the Internet vote because I was quite certain that it would go to the girl who came after her, Philippines. Shamcey was definitely a pageant girl and it really showed in the way she carried herself. Finally, Venezuela had an amazing body also and she won the online fan vote by a large margin. It was pretty shocking that she didn't advance especially because this is the first time since 1990 that Venezuela didn't at least advance to the top 6 if she placed at all. USA and Venezuela have now been excluded from the top 10 for 2 years in a row. It looks like the usual suspects are now seeing unprecedented shake-ups!

The top 5 As the top 10 were announced, I was disappointed at most of the exclusions. I think of the 6 that were eliminated, all but Netherlands should have advanced over many of those that did. Then after hearing their brief bios, the top 10 got to compete in the evening gown competition to the sounds of Bebel Gilberto performing the smooth bossa nova song "Close Your Eyes" and first up was Australia. Was this gown too sexy? I didn't really think so because it essentially was an ornate swimsuit with sheer see-through material for the skirt. I thought she looked great. Costa Rica had such an amazing body that I was saddened to see that she chose to wear this gown because I knew it would do her in. The whole raspberry dipped in chocolate theme just didn't work although it did accentuate her exquisite torso and show off her legs. France followed in a heavenly number that was reminiscent of the gown Venezuela's Monica Spear wore at Miss Universe 2005 except this one had scarves attached at the shoulders. Ukraine followed in yet another billowy white gown that was a suitable choice and obviously won the judges' favor. Next, Portugal followed in a maroon number that many have commented looked like Muppets had to be sacrificed to create it. I think the color suited her but this was as far as she would go. Panama also had an interesting gown. It was white with silver squares to give a sort of disco-ball effect and really red lipstick. Her styling just seemed to scream 1980s. Philippines followed in yet another sheer gown that looked decent. Angola followed with her hair in a bun that set her apart and she posed well before she was revealed from behind those white curtains and she was very careful with her gown, picking it up whenever she had to in order to avoid struggling or potentially tripping on it. At this point, the audience erupted in applause as it seemed that Venezuela's camp suddenly started supporting Angola after their girl was eliminated. China followed in a red Sherri Hill gown that was a popular style in pageants this year and she worked her tall frame well. Finally, Brazil followed with a yellow number with cutouts at the sides and it was flowy and she presented herself with the confidence that a homecrowd girl should. I really would have preferred it if Australia, Costa Rica and France would have advanced to top 5.

The top 5 There was a lot more swooping camera work this year and I'm sure it was challenging but I found it rather unnecessary. Finally, the top 5 were announced and they had to face the final question round. First up was Ukraine who selected Amelia Vega's question. Amelia asked her if she could trade lives with anyone in history, who would it be and why. Ukraine started off by saying that she simply lives her life and is very satisfied with it. If she did have a chance to change lives, she would choose Cleopatra who is a strong and powerful woman worthy of respect and she thinks a woman can be a leader like Cleopatra. Ukraine gave a great example and therefore her answer was very good. Philippines chose Vivica A. Fox's question asking if she would change her religious beliefs to marry the person she loves. Philippines stated that if she had to change her religious beliefs, she would not marry the person she loved because the first person she loves is God, who created her and she has her faith and her principles and that makes her who she is and if that person loves her, he should love her God too. Although Shamcey answered her question well, part of me thinks that these religious questions are traps because people who are religious are often perceived to not be very open-minded and a potential Miss Universe should have a wide perspective and be open-minded as she will be travelling around the world where she will be in a position where she has to respect their customs and beliefs. China followed and she chose Isabeli Fontana's question where she stated that nude beaches are common in certain parts of the world and she asked if public nudity is appropriate or inappropriate. Through her translator, China stated that every country has its own rules and regulations and its own habits as well. We should respect them and be more understanding. So, I actually though this was a nice, concise, diplomatic answer and yes, she may have evaded specifically answering the question itself but it was a stupid question. As I have said in the past, stupid questions trigger stupid responses unless you're a super-genius like Manpreet Brar, Miss India 1995. In 1997, Angelia Savage and Verna Vasquez were also favorites who were victimized by stupid questions and it's really a shame that they chose to let this amazing woman from China go because of that. Brazil followed and was asked by Helio Castroneves what she would do to avoid fighting a war if she didn't agree with it. She started off responding that first of all, she would explain to all that the premier quality of human beings is respect. And no war is based on respect, it's always based on misunderstanding and a lack of education. And so she would tell this person to respect each other as human beings. This was a very good answer also. Angola chose Lea Salonga's question and she asked her if she could change one of her physical characteristics, which one would it be. She responded saying that she thanks God and she is very satisfied with the way that God created her and she wouldn't change a thing. She considered herself a woman endowed with inner beauty. She has her principles acquired from her family which she will plans to follow throughout her life. And she had a piece of advice for everyone which was to respect one another. The crowd was cheering loudly and she was the only one who went long enough for the bell to cut her off at the end and she seemed to be feeding off of what some delegates had said before her. She had a few giggles when she was either cut off by the interpreter or the crowd which I think appealed to the judges because it showed her patience and understanding and she just exuded warmth.

Angola's Leila Lopes reacts to winning Miss Universe 2011After Mexico's Ximena Navarrete did her farewell, the top 5 did their final walk and the results were revealed. Some people noticed that as Andy and Natalie received the card with the results, that some delegates particularly Sri Lanka mouthed the word "Angola" meaning that they probably saw who won. They declared that the 4th runner up was China. She was obviously not expecting that as she froze for a moment before coming forward. When China was announced as the 4th runner up, I suddenly found myself very drained. I just felt weak because I felt so sure about China and couldn't believe that she had to settle for 4th runner up and I didn't really care which one of the others won. Philippines finished 3rd runner up and I could tell that it would be her when the camera was frozen on her for a while before it moved over to Brazil and Angola. Philippines finished one step ahead of where they finished last year so it will be interesting to see what happens next year. I'm actually hoping that Philippines will host Miss Universe 2014 because they hosted 1974 and 1994 so I think that the 20 year chain should continue. The 2nd runner up was Brazil and she raised her hands to louden the audience cheers for her. During the preliminaries, she was cheered on loudly but some people also heard boos so she was both loved and hated as a host titleholder. And as the last two remained, Angola was declared the winner and Ukraine was declared the 1st runner up afterwards. And as it came down to the final two, I really had no idea at the time which way it would go. There were extreme close-ups and yes, people could see the vein on Ukraine's forehead and the pimples on Angola's forehead. This is the first time in Miss Universe history that the winner was declared before the 1st runner up and it was also done this way at Miss USA and Miss Teen USA earlier this year. Leila Lopes of Angola actually seemed to be the sensible choice when I think more about it because her part of the world is ravaged by the AIDS epidemic and AIDS education is the main platform of Miss Universe. Add to that, she comes from a lusophone nation and won in a lusophone nation. Leila had the crowd support and the endearing qualities like genuineness, humility, sincerity and charm which in the end tend to be much more attractive qualities. She also had a spiritual glow and I think she will be an appreciated Miss Universe. Congratulations to Leila and to Angola.


 THE PRETHOUGHTS - Miss Universe 2011



Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP