The U.S.A. cannot be caught!!!
Olivia Culpo captures the 8th Miss Universe crown and the USA reasserts its dominance in the Miss Universe pageant which is of course, the main American-owned international pageant. Just when it looked like Venezuela (who has 6 Miss Universe crowns making them second to the USA in terms of the number of Miss Universe crowns) looked like they were able to catch the USA, they reaffirmed that they cannot be caught when it comes to winning Miss Universe crowns. Of course, many of us didn't see this win coming and I was very surprised when the results were announced but after the initial shock, it all made sense for the USA to win as it was time. After 15 years, it was time for the USA to win again. Mind the gap! As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe for the USA 15 years after Brook Lee won the Miss Universe crown for the USA in 1997. The longest gap between Miss Universe wins for the USA has now been matched. Chelsi Smith won the Miss Universe crown in 1995 which was also 15 years after Shawn Weatherly won in it 1980. Will there ever be a gap longer than 15 years for the USA to win Miss Universe? It will be a very long time before we find out! Olivia Culpo, Miss Universe 2012 This year's Miss Universe reign is also expected to be a shorter one as Miss Universe was held unusually late this year, which gave Miss Universe 2011, Angola's Leila Lopes, the longest reign in history (15 months and 1 week), breaking the record previously held by Miss Universe 2005, Canada's Natalie Glebova, who reigned a week short of 14 months. Initially, it was said that the Miss Universe pageant was delayed this year due to the Olympics and the U.S. presidential election but it was also quite a struggle to find a venue for this pageant as several countries like South Africa and the Dominican Republic among others declined on hosting due to the large hosting fee so it had to be in Las Vegas again. Las Vegas also hosted Miss Universe in 1991, 1996 and 2010 and they have also hosted the Miss USA pageant since 2008. This year's pageant was dubbed the holiday edition of Miss Universe since it was so close to Christmas and it had a holiday theme. A Miss Universe win for the USA is also some good news for the USA after a recent disturbing incident where a young man went on a shooting spree in an elementary school in Connecticut (the home state of the reigning Miss Teen USA, Logan West). The young man by the name of Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 young children and 6 adults before he killed himself. There was a moment of silence for the victims during the pageant. Now that Olivia Culpo has won Miss Universe, Maryland's Nana Meriwether has inherited the crown of Miss USA and I'm actually pretty happy about that because not only is Nana very accomplished but her quest to the Miss USA crown has been a storied one. Nana competed several times for the Miss California USA title placing as a runner-up each time but she did get a highly publicized nose job and when moving back to her home state of Maryland, Nana won the Miss Maryland USA title, then became 1st runner up to Olivia at Miss USA and now has inherited the Miss USA crown after Olivia went on to win Miss Universe. Maryland hasn't had a Miss USA since the controversial Leona Gage won the Miss USA crown for Maryland in 1957 only to be dethroned shortly after when the news broke out that she was actually a married mother of two young children and she also lied about her age. Also, did you notice that many of the major international pageants of 2012 had the host delegate win? Miss China won Miss World which was held in China. Miss Japan won Miss International which was held in Japan and now Miss USA wins Miss Universe which was held in the USA. Also, at Miss Earth, Philippines was 1st runner up and came close to winning the title in her home country!
6 of the 8 Miss Universe winners representing the USA won their titles in their home country. The other two were: Shawn Weatherly (1980) who won the Miss Universe crown in Korea and Chelsi Smith (1995) who won Miss Universe in Namibia. All of the American Miss Universe winners prior to Olivia crowned their successors in the United States so if the 2013 Miss Universe pageant is not held in the United States, then Olivia will be the first American Miss Universe to crown her successor outside of the USA. At 20 years old, Olivia Culpo is also one of the American Miss Universe winners who did not experience a pageant loss on her way to the crown. Miriam Stevenson and Carol Morris both competed at Miss America and experienced losses there prior to winning Miss USA. Shawn Weatherly competed for Miss South Carolina for Miss America but did not win but did win Miss South Carolina USA, then Miss USA and then Miss Universe in 1980. Chelsi Smith made the semifinals in Miss Texas USA 1994 before making a clean sweep of winning Miss Texas USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe 1995. Finally, Brook Lee did experience losses at Miss Hawaii for Miss America before winning Miss Hawaii USA on her last year of eligibility, then Miss USA and Miss Universe 1997.

Donald Trump kisses newly crowned Miss Universe, Olivia CulpoThe show opened with the Christmas theme complete with pageant co-owner, Donald Trump dressed as Santa Claus. The original live feed had some audio glitches with the announcements of the delegates' names being slightly off but it was fixed for later broadcasts. I think the way the introductions were done this year was good. This year's pageant had 89 delegates which ties last year's record. The delegates were shown walking on stage in various groups and patterns and that was a more exciting way to showcase the delegates rather than last year where the delegates stood there and announced their names. This year's method of introductions was fast paced which is a requirement of today's society since people have increasingly shorter attention spans. I wonder if they will return to showing the delegates in their national costumes as was done from 2006 to 2010 rather than the sponsored outfits. This year also saw the returns of hosts Andy Cohen and Guiliana Rancic who also hosted Miss USA for the past two years. This is Guiliana's first time hosting Miss Universe, replacing Natalie Morales who co-hosted last year. I was very happy to see Andy and Guiliana together again as I have said before, those two have a great chemistry and a genuine interest in the pageants which really makes a difference. Jeannie Mai also returned to do background commentary. It was also nice to see Germany, Netherlands and Norway being featured to do various commercials for this year's sponsors throughout the telecast. All 3 were lovely ladies with great faces but didn't quite have the bodies for this competition so they didn't place among the semifinalists.

So in terms of my predictions, I picked 9 of the semifinalists plus 3 alternates (Hungary, France and Brazil) and the 4 surprises that were not in my list were: Turkey, Peru, India and Russia. Turkey, Peru and India were all eliminated in the first round and Russia was cut in the 2nd round. Ecuador-Carolina Aguirre So what happened to my picks that didn't place? The first one was my winner, the stunning Carolina Aguirre of Ecuador. This is the 2nd time since I started making predictions that my winner didn't place. The first time was 2007 when I picked South Africa to win but she didn't place that year for some strange reason. Obviously, Carolina Aguirre's absence from the semifinals disappointed me tremendously as Carolina just had a glow about her and I detected major star potential and I still think it's a tremendous loss that she went unrecognized. Yes, I recognize that her preliminary gown could have been better but she did have a lovely white gown during the formal introduction night when the delegates arrived and had she worn that gown, I am quite sure, she would have placed. Another odd thing about this year is that my picks for the win of Miss USA (South Dakota) and Miss Universe (Ecuador) did not place whereas my winner for Miss Teen USA (Connecticut) was correct. Puerto Rico was my next delegate that did not place and that was also quite shocking. Also, since 2003, only two of either Venezuela, Mexico or Puerto Rico have placed excluding 2005 where all three of those countries placed and even made the top 5 that year. This year, Puerto Rico was the victim of that trend and Bodine Koehler did have an amazing body with an amazing walk and I thought her stage presence was undeniable but some questioned her face as it appeared somewhat child-like and her nose looked considerably browner than the rest of her face during the preliminaries so perhaps that's what did it. Sri Lanka's Sabrina Herft made a strong impression on a lot of people and made quite a few lists but they went unplaced yet again this year and they haven't placed since 1955. I thought she might make a strong impression as she had a great gown twirl during the preliminaries and I also thought it might help that the mother of one of the judges (Nigel Barker) is a former Miss Sri Lanka. Trinidad & Tobago's Avionne Mark really sparkled to me and I thought she would get some recognition but her preliminary gown could have been better. It is interesting to note that no black delegates placed this year which hasn't happened since 2002. Georgia's Tamar Shedania could have been that country's first placement in history but she was also denied although her preliminary gown presentation was so fierce that she made several lists because of it including mine but her face wasn't necessarily the best and her styling in swimsuit could have been better. Guatemala was a great delegate overall but it is rare that Guatemala gets recognized but she did win Miss Congeniality which made me happy. Finally, I thought Thailand would get the Internet vote if she didn't make it on her own as she was a formidable delegate but perhaps she needed more bust. There were a lot of delegates this year that could have made it for one reason or another so I think I did a decent job with my predictions this year.



Winner=USA-Olivia Culpo

Winner=Ecuador-Carolina Aguirre

1st Runner Up=Philippines-Janine Tugonon

1st Runner Up=Venezuela-Irene Esser*

2nd Runner Up=Venezuela-Irene Esser

2nd Runner Up=Poland-Marcelina Zawadzka*

3rd Runner Up=Australia-Renae Ayris

3rd Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Bodine Koehler

4th Runner Up=Brazil-Gabriela Markus

4th Runner Up=Sri Lanka-Sabrina Herft

FINALISTS (alpha'l)


France-Marie Payet

Australia-Renae Ayris*

Hungary-Agnes Konkoly

Kosovo-Diana Avdiu*

Mexico-Karina Gonzalez

Croatia-Elizabeta Burg*

Russia-Elizaveta Golovanova

Mexico-Karina Gonzalez*

South Africa-Melinda Bam

Philippines-Janine Tugonon*



Croatia-Elizabeth Burg

South Africa-Melinda Bam*

India-Shilpa Singh

USA-Olivia Culpo*

Kosovo-Diana Avdiu

Trinidad & Tobago-Avionne Mark

Peru-Nicole Faveron

Georgia-Tamar Shedania

Poland-Marcelina Zawadzka

Guatemala-Laura Godoy

Turkey-Cagit Ozge Ozkul

Thailand-Nutpimon Farida Waller


ALTERNATES:Hungary*, France*, Brazil*, Colombia, Malaysia


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Spain, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Honduras, Guyana


* = made actual top 16

Venezuela, Turkey, France, Peru, Russia, Mexico, Poland, Hungary, South Africa, Philippines, Croatia, Brazil, Kosovo, Australia, India, USA
After the 16 semifinalists were announced, it was time for the swimsuit competition set to the song "Levels" by Avicii which samples Etta James' "Something's Got a Hold on Me" which was also sampled in Flo Rida's hit song "Good Feeling". I liked the little dance with the non-finalists for the opening. First up for the swimsuit competition was venezuela who showed those amateurs how it's done serving up some kick-ass sass. She lit up the auditorium with her very loud stage presence and she knew how to work it like no one else. Some deemed her to be over-the-top but Venezuela needed to shift the gears into overdrive as Venezuela missed the top 6 two years in a row (in 2010 and 2011) which hasn't happened to Venezuela since 1990 and Irene Esser gave it all she could and brought Venezuela back to the top 5 where they belong. Next up was Turkey who was a major surprise this year. She may have won points for a unique answer in her close-up video where she said that if the end of the world was coming that she would steal the Miss Universe crown so that was a humorous answer. She had a decent body but did not have the face for this competition so it was quite clear that she would be eliminated in the first round. France was nice and she was one of my alternates so she was a good pick. She was somewhat thin but still had a nice overall look. Peru's walk bothered me. She kind of looked knock-kneed with the way she moved her legs and her face was so off so she was a major surprise for me but it wasn't a surprise that she was eliminated here. Russia was a suspect, even though she didn't make my list but I just didn't like her face. Her hair was very long and bouncy but often looked rather unkempt. I just wasn't impressed with her. Mexico followed and she does have a great body and overall look so she did well here. Poland followed and I was so happy to see Poland send a strong candidate after so many years of coming up short. Marcelina has an amazing body and is just so gorgeous that I was surprised that Poland didn't advance to the next round as I definitely would have put her in, especially over Russia. Hungary was the highest ranking of my alternates because you usually never can tell with Hungary so I was glad to see her place because Hungary had surprise placements in 2006 and 2008 but this year's delegate was deserving as she does have a great body and a very sweet face so I liked her. South Africa also has a good body and she was favored by others but facially, she wasn't among my stronger picks. Philippines really impressed me in swimsuit and Janine presented well and I liked that she kept her hair down because her overall look was quite appealing and she obviously got a boost from her very loud crowd supporters. Croatia had a decent body but didn't work the stage at all so I wasn't surprised to see her cut here. She really needed more energy in her presentation. Brazil had a great body but her face looked somewhat older to me and her hair looked a bit stringy so that's what kept her as an alternate in my predictions but I wasn't surprised to see her up there. Kosovo has a nice face obviously as she won the Photogenic award but her body actually didn't look as great and it wasn't as tight as I initially thought so I wasn't surprised that she was eliminated here too. Kosovo has had a great track record at Miss Universe since debuting in 2008 as they have placed every year since except 2010. Australia now has a 5 year streak in the semifinals which is currently longer than any other country but it was no surprise that they continued it this year as Renae Ayris was a great delegate with just the right summery fun blonde look. India was a surprise this year although India is a former pageant powerhouse but this year's delegate clearly ranked last of the semifinalists as she clearly did not have the body for this competition and I felt a little embarrassed for her. My assumption is that she may have won the Internet vote although the winner of that vote was not revealed this year as it was last year. India had a 4 year absence from the semifinals from 2008 to 2011 before breaking that this year. I guess the best thing about India placing this year was that we got to see 1994's Miss Universe, India's Sushmita Sen cheering in the audience when India was announced among the semifinalists. Sushmita took over the franchise to send delegates to represent India at Miss Universe since 2010. Finally, we saw USA's Olivia Culpo and eventual winner showing off her great slender body. In spite of her height, Olivia really does shine on stage and she has a bit of a Kate Middleton look to her.
Australia, Russia, Brazil, France, Venezuela, USA, Hungary, South Africa, Mexico, Philippines
After, the top 10 were announced, it was on to the evening gown competition with a performance by Train who did a medley of some of their songs "Drive By", "Mermaid" and "Shake Up Christmas". In the introduction featuring the non-finalists, Georgia almost had a spill on stage after accidentally stepping on Ghana's gown but she caught herself because she has exceptional body control. Australia was up first and she had a classic white gown with her long blonde hair and she simply looked angelic on stage. Russia followed in one of those "panty-gowns" which a lot of people really hate. It's a trend that I also hope dies quickly and I just don't think it is a flattering look. Mexico and Philippines also wore this style of gown which is essentially a swimsuit with long fabric for a skirt. Russia just didn't look good here so this was as far as she would go and don't show off those granny-panties like you think they look good... Brazil had an eye-catching gown and it was likely this gown that helped her advance to the top 5. France also had a lovely gown and looked very delicate. I was also happy to see Chloe Mortaud, Miss France 2009 cheering her on in the audience. Chloe was my pick to win Miss Universe 2009 but she finished 6th that year. Venezuela followed looking like a Christmas tree in a Holiday-appropriate green gown which really complemented her fabulous figure. Venezuela was so well prepared with an amazing wardrobe of gowns as usual. USA followed in this gown that I was concerned about as I thought it looked more like a costume and was unflattering to her figure. During preliminaries, the sash covered her breasts but the way her cleavage was exposed heightened the sex appeal of this gown and she recovered well from a slight trip. As I pointed out in my predictions, these types of ballgowns normally are not recommended for competition unless you are Miss USA who could pretty much wear whatever she wanted in most cases and it was like she was living out a Disney-princess fantasy. Olivia did pull it off but if any other country tried to wear a gown like that, I don't think it would have been rewarded. Hungary's gown was an interesting white gown which looked okay on her. South Africa's gold-leather eyelet gown had a nice design but I guess this was as far as she would go. Mexico sported another one of those atrocious panty-gowns again but it was more severe this time so I think she might have done better if she wore something different but this was also probably as far as she would go. Finally, Philippines came out and worked her gown which was light blue with a pleated skirt but I also thought this wasn't the best choice for her. I did like how she mentioned that Filipinos are huge Miss Universe fans during her little interview video segment. When Philippines was called last of the top 10, I was beginning to think that she would get the win.

Then it was down to the top 5 which consisted entirely of countries that have all won at least twice so there were definitely no new countries winning this year. After the top 5 were announced, it was time for the final question. First up was Venezuela who selected Diego Boneta's question and he asked, "If you could make a new law, what would it be and explain why?". Venezuela responded in broken English. "I think that any leys (laws in Spanish) that are in constitution or in life are already made. I think that we should have, uh, a straight way to go in our similar or, eh, in, in our life as it is. For example, I am a surfer and I think that the...the best wave that I can take is the wave that I wait for it. So... please... do... our only laws that we can do. Thank you, Vegas!" The first words I uttered after hearing this answer were, "Oh! Oh! Oh! Venezuela! That answer was all over the place!" I thought Venezuela could have taken the crown up until she botched this answer. The top 5 - Brazil, USA, Australia, Philippines and Venezuela I think she probably would have benefited by using the interpreter. Did you notice how that interpreter has been an interpreter for Miss Universe since the 80s? I have no idea what his name is though. This answer has pretty much gone viral as the answer to laugh at which has happened in many recent pageants like Ohio at Miss USA 2012 and both of them coincidentally placed as 2nd runner up. I thought Venezuela could have won the crown until I heard this answer then I knew she wouldn't win. Next up, Philippines picked a very ironic question after Venezuela's answer. Nigel Barker asked the question chosen from Twitter which was, "As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?" Philippines answered, "For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing about how to speak a specific language. It's being able to influence and inspire other people. So what...(Audience applauds) So whatever language you have, as long as your heart is to serve and you have a strong mind to... to show to people, then you can be Miss Universe. Thank you." Philippines was very confident in the delivery of her answer and she had the crowd support so at this point, I continued thinking that she would get the win. Next up was Australia who selected the question of Lisa Vanderpump (sans her dog Giggy this time), "As someone who might be winning a modelling contract, how would you feel if you were told to lose weight or risk losing an assignment?" Australia answered, "Thank you for that question. I feel really comfortable in the way I feel and I think that's really important. If someone told me that I'm overweight then I would completely ignore it. As long as I'm feeling good within myself then I think that's all that matters." At this point, I was thinking it would come down to either Australia or Philippines as the two of them gave really strong answers with confident delivery but perhaps they sounded a smidge more rehearsed then USA's more natural-sounding answer and that may have given her an edge. Andy pointed out that Australia and USA were roommates during Miss Universe and that the two of them were together again in the top 5. USA selected judge Ximena Navarrete (Andy was extra careful not to call her Eczema this time) who asked, "What is something you have done that you would never do again?" USA answered, "Hmmm... Okay. Well, first, I'd like to start off by saying that every experience no matter what it is, good or bad, you'll learn from it. Um. That's the name of... That's just life. But something that I regret would probably be picking on my siblings growing up because you appreciate them so much more as you grow older. You get closer with your family but everybody fights with their siblings, right? So... But I don't regret it!" I think this answer made Olivia appear more relatable and not so robotic so this may have given her the edge and sealed the deal. Finally, Brazil selected Kerri Walsh's question, "Like you, I wear a swimsuit when I compete. What would you say to people who believe that women wearing swimsuits in a public forum reduces them to sexual objects?" Brazil through the interpreter answered, "Good evening, everybody. I believe that it's not just in the way that we dress that we show our true selves. We can show our character if we are using an evening gown or a bikini. The important thing is to show everyone the people that we are inside our hearts. Good night, Las Vegas. Thank you." Another decent answer but it was the obvious answer and not really a standout.
Olivia Culpo with Timomatic
Philippines-Janine Tugonon and USA-Olivia Culpo as Olivia reacts when she is declared Miss Universe 2012How awesome was that performance by Timomatic?? I really liked this way of doing the final look at the top 5 using Timomatic's song "Set It Off" incorporating some dancing and it just made it more lively similarly to how Akon presented during Miss USA 2012. Way better than those creepy serenades of the 80s, right? After Angola's Leila Lopes said her farewell from having the longest Miss Universe reign in history. The results were in. Brazil was 4th runner up. Australia was a shocking 3rd runner up which led me to believe even more strongly that it would be Philippines at this point. Venezuela was 2nd runner up in spite of botching her answer so this tells me that she probably would have won if she didn't blow her final answer the way she did because the final vote is normally based on overall impression. Then it was down to the final 2, Philippines and USA and the audience went wild with anticipation. USA was declared the winner of Miss Universe for the 8th time in history and Philippines had to settle for 1st runner up for the 2nd time in history which led to any number of upset Filipino reactions worldwide that went viral but could this mean a win for the Philippines next year? I have pointed out that I want Miss Universe 2014 to be held in the Philippines to continue the 20 year chain as Philippines also hosted the 1974 and 1994 Miss Universe pageants. Send us a winner, Philippines! After 3 consecutive placements in the top 5, it could very well be your time next year. In the meantime, the USA has two very accomplished amazing titleholders. Nana Meriwether inherits the Miss USA crown while Olivia Culpo reigns supreme as Miss Universe 2012.


 THE PRETHOUGHTS - Miss Universe 2012



Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP