THE RESULTS (Dec. 20, 2012)

Mind the gap! The USA cannot be caught and captures its 8th Miss Universe crown. Olivia Culpo now reigns supreme as Miss Universe 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 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! Now, Maryland's Nana Meriwether has inherited the crown of Miss USA. 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! 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. I will post my full commentary on the pageant on December 24.



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

THE PREDICTIONS (Dec. 17, 2012)

And here we are again! I must say that this year could go a lot of ways so after a lot of careful consideration and rewriting one list after another from studying each delegate, I now present to all of you my final predictions for Miss Universe 2012.


Winner=Ecuador-Carolina Aguirre

Simply angelic. I've had my mind made up for a while now and Carolina Aguirre remains my pick for the win this year as I feel that she has the most universal appeal and is the right woman for the job of Miss Universe. The stunning hair and face are so beautiful and she also has an amazing body. Carolina just exudes that warmth and certain something that makes a winner. I'm seeing real star potential in Carolina and I'm hoping the judges recognize that. Ecuador hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2004 and they also recently won Miss Earth and Miss International in 2011 so Ecuador is definitely doing something right.

1st Runner Up=Venezuela-Irene Esser

She's a real showstopper as is typically expected of Venezuelan delegates. The body. The gown. The hair. The wardrobe. The moves. The style. Some say that Irene may be considered over-the-top but that's what we have come to expect from Venezuela who has the pageant game down to a science. Could Venezuela capture its 7th Miss Universe crown this year?

2nd Runner Up=Poland-Marcelina Zawadska

Poland normally sends great delegates that just seem to come up just short of making the semifinals. I think Poland is ready to come back in a big way. Marcelina is just so stunning and a real standout and she speaks very well too so I have really high hopes for her. I would like to point out that during the preliminaries, Leila Lopes while co-hosting read a script that said Poland won Miss Universe the year she was born (1989) but Poland actually won Miss WORLD that year! Whoops!! Poland was 3rd runner up to Miss Universe in 1989 but has yet to win the Miss Universe crown.

3rd Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Bodine Koehler

Bodine has the body! On top of that, she knows how to work it and just has an overall charm of a high ranking delegate. Her face is quite childlike and yes, we've heard the joke that she looks like a brown-noser because the make-up on her nose during preliminaries looked like it was a darker shade of brown but I'm sure they'll fix that up for finals. Puerto Rican delegates normally perform very well and they take pageantry very seriously and have captured 5 Miss Universe crowns already.

4th Runner Up=Sri Lanka-Sabrina Herft

Sabrina won me over in preliminaries and she seems to be making many other lists too. She speaks well and I loved the gown twirl she did during the preliminaries and she does actually have a decent body and I can see her going quite far in the competition. Sri Lanka hasn't placed since 1955 back when they were called Ceylon.


Australia-Renae Ayris

The Aussies have been performing very well in recent years and this year's delegate is expected to continue the trend as she has the fresh, fun summer look with a great body and gown. Australia has the longest running streak in the semifinals right now and Renae is expected to make it a 5th year in a row.

Kosovo-Diana Avdiu

Kosovo has also been a country watch since its debut in 2008 and Diana is added to the list of superb delegates that they have been sending. Diana has a very nice body and gown so let's see how she does.

Croatia-Elizabeta Burg

Yes, there's a reason I put her in 8th place on my list. It's because Elizabeta actually reminds me a lot of Miss Puerto Rico 1999, Brenda Liz Lopez who also placed 8th at Miss Universe during her year. Elizabeta has strong modelling skills and she has been featured in a lot of press photos and I can see her getting the nod but I'm still a bit wary of her interview skills because I was hoping for her to be a bit stronger in close-up online video. I think Donald Trump will take a liking to her as well.

Mexico-Karina Gonzalez

Karina has performed quite well as Mexico normally does in Las Vegas (Mexico won both of their Miss Universe crowns in 1991 and 2010 while both pageants were held in Las Vegas and in 1996 in Las Vegas, they finished 5th.) The loud crowd support certainly gave Karina a boost and she seems to have met the expectations of her during the competition.

Philippines-Janine Tugonon

Janine has also performed quite well so far and she has received training from previous delegates from the Philippines, Venus Raj and Shamcey Supsup who both placed in the top 5 during their respective competitions. Janine will also have much crowd support and she did perform well in swimsuit and her interview skills are decent but I was hoping for a gown that would have more impact.


South Africa-Melinda Bam

Melinda seems to be very well liked but she's one of those delegates that I'm still not too sure about facially so this is where I'm putting her in my list. Still, she does seem to have performed to the best of her ability and has a decent body, gown and overall appearance so let's see how she does.

USA-Olivia Culpo

This gown worries me quite a bit actually as I didn't find it form flattering and I'm beginning to wonder if she might miss the cut because of it. Just a note to other pageant delegates that these costume style of dresses normally are not recommended for competing in pageants. I'm still giving Olivia a spot in my list because her interview skills are strong and she does a nice body and face but due to her height, I don't think she will advance past the swimsuit round.

Trinidad & Tobago-Avionne Mark

Avionne is one of those delegates that just has a sparkle and I loved her close-up video too and she has a very nice body so I think she will charm the judges as she did me.

Georgia-Tamar Shedania

Tamar was incredible during the preliminary gown competition. Everyone saw that magical moment when she worked the stage and instantly pulled you in and made sure you were focused on her and because she was such a stand out, she gets a spot on my list. It really was a WOW moment. Georgia's team really seems to have put in extra effort in supporting this year's delegate and it looks like it just might pay off.

Guatemala-Laura Godoy

Guatemala did place last time in Vegas in 2010 and this year's delegate does have a Paula Abdul sort of look to her but this gown is what did it for me. This gown is so magnificent and exquisite that I just had to put her in and Laura also does have a great body so she has earned a spot in my list.

Thailand-Nutpimon Farida Waller

And finally for the Internet vote, I have chosen Thailand but she looks like a delegate who could actually make it on her own. I think her interview skills are quite good as are the body and gown so I have given her the final spot on my list.


Hungary-Agnes Konkoly

Well, these years, you never know when it comes to Hungary. This year's delegate looks like she could make it as she does have a nice body and face and seems like a sweet girl so she could do it but she looks a little uncertain at times and often I find Hungary is one of the countries that may need some help from the organization to make it.

France-Marie Payet

France has been doing well in recent years but for whatever reason, this year's delegate who was a replacement delegate for the actual winner of Miss France just fell short of placing for me but she could do it. She's good but I think she needed to make more of an impact.

Brazil-Gabriela Markus

I heard she was selected to be featured in a Chi commercial which makes me go hmmm... Brazil's delegate this year has a decent body and gown but when I look in her face, she just didn't quite give me the right vibe so I question her.

Colombia-Daniella Alvarez

Somehow, Daniella just seems to have fallen flat for me and I'm not so sure about the face or hips and I was expecting a better gown than this as Colombia normally has but there are still possibilities here.

Malaysia-Kimberley Leggett

This year's delegate is a vast improvement for Malaysia which is a country that hasn't placed since 1970 but somehow I feel that this year's delegate may be passed on. Still, I find her quite charming so you never know.


Spain-Andrea Huisgen

This is another one that seems to have just fallen flat and the constant laugh/smile is perhaps a distraction tactic from some slight imperfections but there is the possibility that she could charm her way in so we'll see what happens.

Czech Republic-Tereza Chlebovska

Czech Republic did have a 4 year streak in the semifinals that was broken last year but I'm not so sure about this year's delegate but she's decent overall and she could win Trump's favor so there's possibilities here.

Netherlands-Nathalie den Dekker

Netherlands did place last year so perhaps the light is shining upon them but for whatever reason, I see this rep as just coming up short and just not quite strong enough so we'll see what happens.

Honduras-Jennifer Andrade

You know how there's normally a surprise delegate each year? Well, Jennifer's performance in the preliminaries caused me to think that she might be it. She is a very short delegate but I really admired that in spite of that, she performed with confidence. Her gown was very memorable and stood out and she does have a very fit body but what kept her out was that her mouth looked off center when watching her online close-up video. In some pictures, Jennifer actually looks a bit like Sahar Biniaz who was originally supposed to represent Canada this year but couldn't due to a foot injury so perhaps there's some correlation here. Also, it's interesting to note that both Sri Lanka and Honduras are both mentioned in my list this year and the last time both of those countries placed was in 1955.

Guyana-Ruqayyah Boyer

Ruquyyah's fall during the preliminary gown competition was a shock but the smile never left her face even after it happened so maybe she will pull a Miriam Quiambao (Philippines 1999) and get a spot after all. It's interesting to note that one of the preliminary judges was Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008 who also had a highly publicized fall so perhaps this will garner some sympathy votes? I did compare Ruqayyah to singer/actress Brandy Norwood so she does have a look so is it time for Guyana to get its first placement?

And I will also mention some other delegates that just fell short of making my list:

Chile (she lost me during preliminaries as I felt her look wasn't quite right and the gown didn't help)
Japan (I liked her originally and thought she might do it but she didn't quite deliver)
Switzerland (Still a potential surprise but I think they may pass on her)
Bahamas (very fit body but somehow I still don't see Bahamas getting its first placement)
Ukraine (She could get a little help as Ukraine has become a country to watch in recent years but I'm thinking this may not be one of them)
Paraguay (Her look is bit older to me so she just doesn't have the appeal to me. Someone said she looks like someone who could be on one of the Real Housewives shows and I could see that.)
Finland (Also has a fairly decent body but I wasn't sure about her after preliminaries. She had a similar hairstyle to Zuleyka Rivera when she won Miss Universe and that gown...)
Sweden (Maybe but probably not)
New Zealand (Just not sure enough about her)
Slovak Republic (Again, Slovak Republic just may not have the right look. She might be considered too sexy.)
Israel (Also didn't quite have the right overall look)
Germany (She had some good headshots but didn't really impress in preliminaries)
Russia (Other people are noticing her but I don't see it)

So there it is, ladies and gentlemen! Another year with another list! So the truth will be unveiled on December 19, 2012 on NBC live from Las Vegas so until then!


The preliminaries for Miss Universe 2012 are on December 13 at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time in Las Vegas and the webcast can be viewed online at

Miss Universe 2012 finals will be held on December 19 on NBC and will be hosted again by Andy Cohen and Guiliana Rancic. Those two also hosted Miss USA earlier this year and last year as well and I'm very happy to see them return because as mentioned in previous commentaries, they have great chemistry and a genuine interest in the pageant which gives them that sparkle and enthusiasm that a lot of pageant hosts tend to lack. The Grammy award winning group Train wlll also be performing during the pageant.

Ecuador, Guatemala, Venezuela
This year's pageant has taken on a holiday season theme complete with some really festive outfits!

A few days ago, the delegates from Mexico and the Philippines were pictured with famous boxers Juan Manuel Marquez from Mexico and Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines and on December 8, Marquez defeated Pacquiao during the sixth round of a fight also staged in Las Vegas.

Lu Sierra, Fashion Walk Consultant, works with the Miss Universe Contestants during rehearsals at Bally's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rehearsals with Lu Sierra, Fashion Walk Consultant

Witness the magic unfold on December 19 on NBC when the Miss Universe 2012 pageant broadcasts live from Las Vegas, Nevada. There are expected to be 16 semifinalists: 9 of whom are selected by the preliminary judges, 6 of whom are selected by the Miss Universe organization and 1 semifinalist will be determined by the Internet vote. Of course, my predictions will be finalized after I have had a chance to view all the delegates competing in preliminaries but in the meantime, a lot of you have been asking who I think the early contenders are so here is a 2nd round of prethoughts of my current feelings about each of the 89 delegates for Miss Universe 2012 after reviewing pictures and the online close-up videos coupled with some of my background knowledge. I will say that this year there are lot of question marks and delegates that could make it for one reason or another and some that many suspect will place may not be guaranteed a spot in the semifinals and of course, there could be the surprise delegates that most people didn't see coming so I will be relying heavily on the preliminary show to determine my final predictions list.

1. Albania - In recent years, you never know when it comes to Albania. They have placed in 2002, 2009 and 2010 among the semifinalists but this year's delegate in not on my list.

2. Angola - The reigning Miss Universe is from Angola and Venezuela is the only country to win two years in a row (2008 and 2009) but the pressure is normally on the delegate representing the country of the reigning queen. This year's delegate doesn't quite have the right look to me so she is also not on my list.

3. Argentina - Argentina did have a surprise placement in 2006 but they're last time in the semifinals prior to that was way back in 1979. Norma Nolan won the crown for Argentina in 1962 but this year's delegate is not among my picks.

4. Aruba - Apparently, she was the only delegate who signed up for the title of Miss Aruba so she won by default. Aruba has placed only twice with strong showings each time because their stunning delegate in 1974 placed as 4th runner up and the gorgeous Taryn Mansell was 1st runner up in 1996. Aruba has sent some strong delegates in the past and their delegates for 2000, 2004, 2005, and 2011 were in my predictions lists for those years but Aruba was denied each of those times. I don't expect this year's delegate to place.

5. Australia - Renae Ayris is currently in my top 10 so I'm fully expecting her to place. This summery blonde sparkles and has a great body and speaks well. Australia currently has a 4 year streak in the semifinals and I expect Renae to make it and make it a 5 year streak. After Jennifer Hawkins won the Miss Universe crown for Australia in 2004, there has been a great resurgence in the interest in pageantry in Australia resulting in them consistently sending great delegates with the overall package. Another win may be in the cards for Australia in the near future so will Renae do it for the land down under?

6. Bahamas - This is one of my question marks. There's no denying that this girl has a really fit body but the Bahamas have never placed in the history of Miss Universe and I'm starting to wonder why. I think she has decent interview skills but maybe there isn't enough substance? Her face can look a bit masculine at times also so I will be watching her closely during preliminaries. She might just fall short of entering my list.

7. Belgium - This girl has a very unique look which means she has the potential to be a surprise semifinalist so keep an eye on her. I think her legs probably aren't long enough though. Belgium has surprised us before placing in 2009 and 2010. This nation also placed in the top 6 in 1981 and 1992.

8. Bolivia - I don't expect Bolivia to place this year. They only place when the pageant is in Los Angeles!! Of course, I'm kidding and the venue usually means nothing but it is true that the only times Bolivia has placed was in 1990 and 2006 (both years that Miss Universe was held in Los Angeles).

9. Botswana - I found her to be a bit soft-spoken at first but this year's delegate is not expected to place. I thought her dating story was interesting as she mentioned the guy who asked her out to dinner insisted she pay for her own meal. Botswana won with its first delegate ever when Mpule Kwelagobe captured the Miss Universe crown for Botswana back in 1999. Botswana hasn't placed since then though.

10. Brazil - Initially, I thought she was out but after seeing her in action and seeing some recent pictures of her, she has become a possibility. Last year's pageant was held in Brazil and this nation has experienced many successes in pageants past. Brazil captured the crown in 1963 and 1968 and their delegate last year finished 3rd so what's in store for Brazil this year?

11. British Virgin Islands - Nature's Little Secret has never placed and that is not expected to change this year.

12. Bulgaria - This nation also needs to prepare their delegates better as they have never placed and isn't expected to place this year either.

13. Canada - My country has had the most publicized national pageant this year as it is the first to have allowed a transgendered contestant, Jenna Talackova who finished in the top 12 at the Canadian pageant but did not advance to the top 5. Then, the winner of Canada's crown, Sahar Biniaz suffered a foot injury and withdrew from the pageant leaving the door open for 1st runner up, Adwoa Yamoah to compete for Canada at Miss Universe this year with only about four days notice. Sahar was received international training throughout the year but Adwoa didn't have much time to prepare so I don't expect her to place but kudos to her for stepping in maintaining Canada's annual participation in Miss Universe as Canada, France and Germany are the only countries to compete in every Miss Universe pageant since its inception in 1952.

14. Cayman Islands - This nation has never placed and while this year's delegate seems decent, it doesn't seem to be enough to get a semifinalist spot. When watching her close-up video, she seemed a bit nervous and had some delays in her responses which made me think she was trying to remember something she had rehearsed rather than speaking naturally.

15. Chile - Another question mark for me that has been in and out of my list multiple times so I'm unsure of this one. I think she does have a great look but it might be more of a model look than a Miss Universe look. Her teeth and nose seem a bit off but she does have really good energy in her close-up video and in pictures so this is another one I'll be watching closely in preliminaries to determine where to place her in my list.

16. China - Well, last year's Chinese delegate was my winner and she did finish as 4th runner up but this year's delegate is not on my list but perhaps there is something about her I'm not seeing. I thought there were many promising delegates in China's national pageant this year but the winner wasn't among my picks. Did she really say that she might want to get eaten by a tiger if the world was ending tomorrow??

17. Colombia - She likes to paHty. So right now, Colombia is in my list because I know Colombian delegates are normally well prepared and this year's delegate looks promising but Colombia has been taken out of the running before so I am a bit uncertain so I will keep an eye on her in preliminaries. Colombia won the Miss Universe crown in 1958 and was 1st runner up in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2008.

18. Costa Rica - This year's delegate is a far cry from last year's outstanding delegate so I don't expect the land of peace and brotherhood to place this year.

19. Croatia - Well, the Croatian delegate has been photographed a lot so that may be an indication that she is one to watch but after watching her close-up video, she was too soft-spoken and just not exciting so I don't think she is prepared for this potential job of Miss Universe and is maybe just more of a model type so her close-up caused her to fall into alternates territory but I will be keeping an eye on her during preliminaries. Croatia has only placed once which was in 2009 as a surprise semifinalist.

20. Curacao - Overall, she is actually a decent candidate but isn't making enough of an impact for me to put her in my list. I get a bit of an artificial vibe from her but there is potential here. Curacao hasn't placed since 1997.

21. Cyprus - I hope she enjoys her stay in Vegas.

22. Czech Republic - Could the Czech Republic make a comeback? They placed for 4 years straight from 2007 to 2010 until missing the semifinals last year so this year's delegate has potential to return to the semifinals but I'm not absolutely certain about her so right now she's one of my question marks. I found her to be quite likeable in her close-up video so I'll be watching her closely during the preliminaries.

23. Denmark - This year's delegate does not have the body for this competition.

24. Dominican Republic - Dulcita Lieggi replaced the original winner of the Dominican Republic's crown, Carlina Duran, who was stripped of her title when it was discovered that she was once married. I don't think Dulcita's look is quite right so she will likely not be on my list and I don't think preliminaries will change that.

25. Ecuador - For those of you who read my first round prethoughts, you will know that Ecuador is my winner and she still remains my winner. I am so pleased with Carolina Aguirre and I would be ecstatic if she captured the first Miss Universe crown for the land where the hemispheres meet, Ecuador! Ecuador hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2004 and have experienced great successes since then capturing the Miss Earth and Miss International crowns in 2011 so they are definitely doing something right in Ecuador. I find Carolina to have the most universal appeal of this year's delegates and she has a gorgeous face, reminiscent of Mexico's 2005 delegate, Laura Elizondo. Her body is amazing and she carries herself beautifully.

26. El Salvador - There are possibilities here but I'm not totally certain. She does seem to have good interview skills based on her close-up video so I'll be watching her closely during preliminaries. El Salvador was 1st runner up back in 1955 and they haven't placed since 1996.

27. Estonia - They have placed twice in 1997 and 2000 so to get noticed, Estonian delegates really need to have a spark which this year's delegate does not possess.

28. Ethiopia - This year's delegate is not expected to place. They did pull off one surprise placement in 2006.

29. Finland - Although this country has 2 Miss Universe winners (in 1952 and 1975), Finland hasn't placed since 1996. While, this year's Finnish delegate is not bad, she also doesn't seem to be particularly outstanding either so we'll see what happens.

30. France - She was actually 2nd runner up at her national pageant but Delphine Wespiser, the original Miss France winner returned to France to crown her successor so Marie Payet is competing at Miss Universe as a result. Marie does have a very nice style, gorgeous gown and nice carriage. At times, I question the body though so she may or may not be in my list but I'm leaning towards semifinalist but she is another one I will be watching closely during preliminaries.

31. Gabon - Like France, the original winner of the Gabon title, Marie-Noëlle Ada was replaced by Channa Divouvi, the 1st runner-up of Miss Gabon 2011 due to Marie being unable to attend both the pageant and Miss Gabon 2012. This is also the first time that Gabon is competing for Miss Universe but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

32. Georgia - She seems to be more of a model type but I think she could use some interview coaching as I wasn't too sure about her after watching her close-up video. I appreciate that Georgia is trying though but I'm thinking they could just fall short this year.

33. Germany - Alicia Endemann was appointed to represent Germany and she certainly does have a great look to her and her close-up video showed some promise but this is really one that I need to see in preliminaries because I think she might appear a bit short and may not have enough stage presence.

34. Ghana - She has an interesting look to her, particularly those cheekbones, but I'm not expecting her to place.

35. Great Britain - This year's delegate is not expected to place and I often wonder if Great Britain or the United Kingdom will ever return to the Miss Universe semifinals. England, Scotland and Wales have all placed as 1st runner up in the past but there has never been a win for the land of the Union Jack. England last placed in 1983, Scotland last placed in 1980 and Wales last placed in 1979.

36. Greece - I think I need to see more of her but as of now, she is not in my list.

37. Guam - This year's delegate seems pretty nonchalant and Guam normally is not one to watch so I don't expect her to place. The best Guam has ever done was 1st runner up placement in 1982.

38. Guatemala - When I was watching her online close-up video, she was giving me a bit of a Paula Abdul vibe with the hair and she does have a decent body but I'm not too sure that she will be able to pull it off but Guatemala has surprised us before. They last placed in the top 10 in 2010.

39. Guyana - She looks a bit like singer/actress Brandy Norwood and she is quite spirited but she is not expected to place.

40. Haiti - I don't see this year's delegate placing but it's good to see Haiti back at Miss Universe as they have been absent several times. Haiti made it all the way to 1st runner up back in 1975 which is their best placement to date.

41. Honduras - Height is usually an issue for delegates from this country but she does have a decent body. When watching her close-up video, I noticed her mouth looked a bit off-center but overall, I'm not getting the impression that she would place. Honduras last placed in 1955.

42. Hungary - This one is also a question mark to me. She has been in and out of my list because Hungary has surprised us before but this one is a possible placement and that is currently where I'm leaning. She actually looks quite good and her online close-up video was decent so she could do it but this is another one, I'll be watching closely during preliminaries.

43. India - So it looks like this former pageant powerhouse will go a 5th year in a row absent from the semifinals. Unfortunately, India's original winner, Urvashi Rautela was dethroned because she was a few weeks short of meeting the age requirement and had another conflicting pageant title so she surrendered her title to the runner up, Shilpa Singh who is now competing for Miss Universe. Urvashi was considered a favorite but Shilpa is not expected to place. I was actually surprised when watching her online close-up video as her responses were rather unfiltered and perhaps a little too real. Miss Universe is a diplomatic post and sometimes it's not always best to say what you're actually thinking.

44. Indonesia - She's not a contender but there are quite a few Indonesian pageant fans so there is a possibility that she could get the online vote. Indonesia placed once which was in 2005.

45. Ireland - I didn't think she was the best choice for Ireland but she is quite fit and has a distinct look but I'm not expecting her to place.

46. Israel - She's a maybe. As of right now, she's not in my list but this year's delegate looks like she might be able to pull it off. Israel last placed in 2005 and they have won the crown once in 1976.

47. Italy - This year's delegate is not strong enough for this year's competition. Italy has yet to capture the Miss Universe crown although they were 1st runner up twice in 1960 and 1987.

48. Jamaica - The island of Reggae did well last time in Vegas with their 2010 delegate, Yendi Philipps who was 1st runner up that year which is the closest that Jamaica has come to the crown but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

49. Japan - Japan has been in and out of my list several times because this is another one that I'm not totally sure about and I'll be watching her closely during preliminaries. During her online close-up video, she was laughing and her teeth looked a little off but I like her hair and she seems to have a decent body so she is one to keep an eye on. Japan last placed in 2008 and they have won the crown in 1959 and 2007.

50. Korea - She appears very thin so I'll be passing on Korea this year. Korea has never won the crown but the closest they came was with a 1st runner up placement in 1988 and they achieved a 3rd runner up placement in 2007.

51. Kosovo - This girl is among my picks right now but I would like to see more energy coming from her. Kosovo has been a country to watch since debuting in 2008 placing every year except 2010 since then and this year's delegate looks promising with a great body and pleasant overall look.

52. Lebanon - There's a hint of Lana Del Rey in that look. What's interesting about Lebanon is that she has a twin sister and her sister was 1st runner up at the national pageant. As of right now, Lebanon is not on my list because I don't think she's quite strong enough but you never know. Lebanon hasn't placed since 1973 and they did win the crown in 1971.

53. Lithuania - This country is making it's debut this year but I don't see them placing although, there have been cases for debut countries being shown some love in the past but I'm not so sure about that this year.

54. Malaysia - Well, Malaysia is trying and I appreciate that. There were some articles about this year's delegate where she was being criticized for looking too European to represent Malaysia. Her father is white but I think it's ridiculous as the world is becoming increasingly diversified and there are other delegates who also don't resemble the majority of the populations they are representing. This year's delegate has improved since her crowning and she does have a good energy about her but I don't see it happening for Malaysia this year.

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

56. Mexico - She is in my top 10 as of right now and there is no question she will have some very loud crowd support in the audience. I would like to see a bit more energy from her but I think she will turn it on during the preliminaries and finals. Las Vegas has proven a lucky destination for Mexico as both of their Miss Universe crowns in 1991 and 2010 were won in Las Vegas and in 1996, their delegate finished 5th so where will Mexico place this year??

57. Montenegro - Her face is a bit chubbier than I was expecting after viewing the online close-up video. She is not expected to place.

58. Namibia - The smile of Africa is also not expected to place again this year. Namibia has won the crown in 1992 and last placed in 2004.

59. Netherlands - She does have a great look but I'm concerned about her height and I'm not so sure about her stage presence either. This one will need to give it some more to get noticed so right now I'm thinking she may be an honorable mention.

60. New Zealand - For whatever reason, the Kiwis haven't placed since 1992 but this year's delegate looks promising but I'm still not totally sure about her so she will really have to have a strong performance in preliminaries if she wants to place. Talia Bennett also was originally a runner-up at her national pageant but since Avianca Böhm lost the crown after failing to gain New Zealand citizenship, Talia has been given the chance to compete. New Zealand won the crown once in 1983.

61. Nicaragua - Nicaraguan delegates in recent years also receive a lot of training but this year's delegate is not on my list.

62. Nigeria - Um... Oh my... I just... can't... Oooh.

63. Norway - She's not on my list as I find her too petite and just not as well-rounded as many of the other delegates but some other people seem to like her. Norway last won the crown in 1990 and that winner, Mona Grudt, is also the last European winner to reign for a full year, believe it or not. Russia won in 2002 but she gave up the crown a few months later.

64. Panama - Of course, I mentioned last year that since Panama bailed out on hosting Miss Universe 2013 that they would not place this year. Even if I didn't think that way, this year's delegate is not a contender so she is not on my list.

65. Paraguay - Other people seem to like her but her look reads a little too sexy for Miss Universe so right now I'm thinking she may be an honorable mention. Paraguay last placed in 2006 and 2004 placing as 3rd runner up both times.

66. Peru - Peru last placed in 2005 and they did win the crown in 1957. This year's delegate is not on my list however.

67. Philippines - Janine Tugonon has received training from the two previous titleholders from the Philippines, Shamcey Supsup and Venus Raj who both placed in the top 5 during their respective years so what is in store for the Philippines this year? Right now, I have Janine in my top 10 as she does have good stage presence but there are some delegates that I deem stronger this year so placing in the top 5 might be a little harder this time around for the Philippines so let's see if Janine can do it.

68. Poland - Wow! Where did you come from, Poland? Oh yeah, that's right. You came from Poland!! After seeing her arrival pics and viewing her online close-up video, Marcelina Zawadzka has shot up to my 2nd runner up position at the moment. Poland normally does send good delegates that just seem to fall short each year but I'm seeing great potential with Marcelina. I'm very pleased, Poland!

69. Puerto Rico - This girl has a body and a walk to die for! You just can't miss this girl on stage as her presence is powerful so she is also in my top 5 at the moment. Her face is a little child-like but I fully expect this year's delegate to have a strong showing. Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe crown 5 times (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2006) so could it be time again?

70. Romania - Romania has never placed and that is not expected to change this year.

71. Russia - I've seen better delegates from Russia and this year's delegate does not impress me at all so she is not on my list.

72. Serbia - This year's delegate is not among the stronger candidates so I don't expect her to place.

73. Singapore - Again, this year's delegate just isn't strong enough for this competition. Singapore last placed in 1987 which was also the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant.

74. Slovak Republic - She has a long face but a hot body but this is another one, like Paraguay, whose look may be interpreted as too sexy. She might be an honorable mention though but I still need to see how she does in preliminaries.

75. South Africa - Some say she bears a slight resemblance to Britney Spears. Melinda's face distracts me somewhat because she has nose issues but a lot of other people really seem to like her. If South Africa could be eliminated entirely in 2007 and cut in the first round in 2005, then I don't know that it's such a sure thing for South Africa this year. I do have her in my top 10 at the moment as she does have a good body and speaks well but I'm not as sure about her as others seem to be.

76. Spain - This is a very charming, spirited delegate. I loved last year's delegate from Spain but she didn't place which disappointed me. I'm thinking that might turn around this year and Spain is presently on my list but I will be watching her closely during preliminaries to determine for sure.

77. Sri Lanka - Some people have been taking notice of her but she isn't on my list at the moment as I'm not too sure about her body. It reminds me a bit of Neha Dhupia, Miss India 2002 who had smaller bust and wide hips. Sri Lanka last placed in 1955 as 2nd runner up back when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon.

78. St. Lucia - She has a nice face but she is not on my list as it would take a lot for St. Lucia to get noticed and I just don't find her to be strong enough.

79. Sweden - There's possibilities here as she seems decent but I am not really seeing enough of her so preliminaries will determine whether or not she makes my list. Sweden has won the crown 3 times (1955, 1966 and 1984) and they last placed in 2009.

80. Switzerland - This is also one to keep an eye on as Switzerland has surprised us before so perhaps it is time again. This year's delegate is decent but she is flying under the radar and has potential to be a surprise semifinalist. Switzerland last placed in 2009 and has never won the crown.

81. Tanzania - She has a distinct look, reminiscent of Shari Belafonte but I don't see this delegate placing. Tanzania last placed in 2007.

82. Thailand - This is another one that could potentially win the Internet vote but I have noticed that she is posing well and seems to have received good training but I'm not so sure about the body as the bust is smaller but this is one to keep an eye on. Thailand has 2 Miss Universe crowns won in 1965 and 1988 and they last placed in 2007 so will Thailand make a comeback this year?

83. Trinidad & Tobago - She is in my top 10 as of right now as I find this year's delegate to be quite appealing and well spoken. Trinidad & Tobago has won the Miss Universe crown twice (1977 and 1998) and they last placed in 2006 so I think it is time for Trinidad to make a comeback.

84. Turkey - Turkey hasn't placed since 1990 and this year's delegate is not expected to change that.

85. Ukraine - Well, in recent years, Ukraine cannot go unnoticed unlike years prior to 2004 so therefore we must keep an eye on Ukraine's representative. This is another one that has been going in and out of my list so many times that I'll wait for preliminaries to determine where to put her.

86. Uruguay - This country usually has a difficult time getting noticed and I don't expect to see them place this year.

87. USA - The host delegate has a lot of pressure this time around! It has been 15 years since the USA won the Miss Universe crown so if Olivia doesn't win, we will officially enter the longest period in history that the USA has gone without a Miss Universe winner. As lovely as Olivia is, her height might be even more of an issue this time around. I don't see her advancing to the top 10 because of this so the competition is going to be an uphill battle for her but she is very poised so let's see how she does.

88. Venezuela - Irene Esser definitely has it all. The presence, the body, the looks, the wardrobe, the moves, etc. but will it be deemed too much perhaps? Right now, I have Irene as my 1st runner up and she is fully expected to bring Venezuela back to the top 5 after a 2 year absence from the top 5 which hasn't happened to Venezuela since 1990. This pageant powerhouse nation remains triumphant and is the only nation to win the crown two years in a row (2008 and 2009) and Venezuela's next win would give them 7 Miss Universe crowns in total which is what the USA has giving them the most Miss Universes.

89. Vietnam - She has nice dimples but her body isn't quite up to par so I'll be passing on Vietnam this year.

So there you have it! A quick run through of some of my opinions of who's in and who's out and who's a question mark so my final predictions list will be determined a few days after the preliminaries and of course, the truth will be unveiled on December 19!!

Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011 has the longest reign in history.
After the longest wait in history, Miss Universe is finally happening on December 19! The delegates are now starting to make their way to Las Vegas and as of now, there are 89 delegates competing which matches last year's record of the most participants in the pageant's history. There have been a lot of rumors circulating about the reasoning for having Miss Universe so late this year such as it not interfering with other major events this year such as the Olympics and the U.S. presidential race. There has also been a lot of trouble finding a host country for this year's pageant. Some thought it would be held in South Africa or Dominican Republic but the large fee to host seems to have caused one country after another to decline on hosting the pageant and so we return to Las Vegas once again. Las Vegas has been the host of the Miss USA pageant since 2008 and it has previously hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 2010, 1996 and 1991. This year's late pageant also gives the reigning Miss Universe, Angola's Leila Lopes, the longest Miss Universe reign in history (15 months and 1 week from September 12, 2011 to December 19, 2012). This breaks the record previously held by Miss Universe 2005, Canada's Natalie Glebova who reigned for just about a week short of 14 months from May 31, 2005 to July 23, 2006. But who will take the crown this year? Well, here are some articles that outline some of the ladies I have my eye on this year.

Let the Hemispheres Meet ECUADOR!
Ecuador-Carolina Aguirre
Ecuador-Carolina AguirreAlthough, I will post my final predictions after the preliminaries, I have some general ideas of who my early frontrunners so far and my winner as of this moment is this stunning beauty named Carolina Aguirre who is representing the land where the hemispheres meet, Ecuador! (Cue Sash's hit song 'Ecuador') Carolina stands at 5'10" and she is perhaps the one delegate who is consistently photogenic is every picture I have seen of her. I'm really detecting some major star potential with Carolina since she has such a fresh face with an inviting smile and she really seems to exude that genuine, sincere warmth and likeability that should win her the universal appeal of both male and female judges. Carolina has also been compared to Mexico's Laura Elizondo who was 3rd runner up to Miss Universe 2005. Ecuador has only placed twice in the history of Miss Universe. Ecuador last placed in 2004 during the year that they hosted Miss Universe and they also placed in 1981. However, after hosting Miss Universe 2004, Ecuador has made a name for itself on the international pageant map as Ecuador won both the Miss Earth and Miss International crowns for 2011. I would be thrilled to see stunning Carolina Aguirre take the Miss Universe crown as I feel that she would be a very adored Miss Universe so I'm hoping my instincts are correct this year.

Australian Gold

Australia-Renae AyrisJennifer Hawkins-Miss Universe 2004The longest streak in the semifinals of Miss Universe currently belongs to Australia as they have placed 4 years in a row (from 2008 to 2011) and the land down under is fully expected to continue that streak with this year's strong representative, Renae Ayris. Another summery blonde beauty, Renae also has what it takes to get noticed in a big way at Miss Universe this year. I think it's amazing that Australia has become a powerhouse at Miss Universe after Jennifer Hawkins won the Miss Universe crown in 2004 after Australia somehow missed the semifinals from 1994 to 2003. Jennifer has become a major star in Australia succeeding her win and it was recently announced that Jennifer would become the next host of Australia's Next Top Model. Australia also won the 1972 Miss Universe crown thanks to Kerry Anne Wells.

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas?
Venezuela-Irene EsserMexico-Karina Gonzalez
This will be the 4th time that Miss Universe will be held in Las Vegas. In 1991, Mexico won its 1st Miss Universe crown in Las Vegas. In 1996, Venezuela would take its 4th Miss Universe crown. In 2010, Mexico won Miss Universe again. So is there a pattern here? Does this mean that it is now Venezuela's turn in 2012? There is no denying that Venezuela is consistently a powerhouse at Miss Universe and this year's representative, Irene Esser could very well take the crown as she is a very strong competitor. In fact, another win from Venezuela would give them their 7th Miss Universe crown. Currently the USA has 7 Miss Universe crowns which is more than any other country and the USA also has 8 1st runners-up. Venezuela currently has 6 Miss Universe crowns and 6 1st runners-up so Venezuela could soon top the list of having the most Miss Universes which has always been topped by the USA which some have perceived as a bit of a bias considering that Miss Universe is American owned. Or will Mexico triumph once again in Las Vegas for the 3rd time? Mexico is being represented by Karina Gonzalez and there is no question that she will have much crowd support so she is certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Mind the Gap!

USA-Olivia CulpoShawn Weatherly-Miss Universe 1980Chelsi Smith-Miss Universe 1995So here we are in the year 2012 which means there is much pressure on Miss USA. The longest gap in history for Miss USA winning Miss Universe is 15 years (from 1980 when Shawn Weatherly won to 1995 when Chelsi Smith won). Brook Lee won Miss Universe for the USA in 1997 and here we are 15 years later in 2012 with Olivia Culpo representing the USA. So will Olivia match the 15 year gap and pull off the win or are we about to enter the longest period in history that the USA has gone without a Miss Universe win? Note also that USA is this year's host country and that has seemed to be a major advantage for other major international pageants this year. For example, Miss World was held in China and won by China. Miss International was held in Japan and won by Japan. Miss Earth was held in the Philippines and Philippines placed as 1st runner up to Czech Republic. The USA has also won 5 of its 7 crowns in the USA but times have changed a lot since the earlier years so will all these factors work for Miss USA or is it possible that they could work against her?

Republica Dominicana or Replaceca DomIndiCanada?

Carlina Duran is crowned Miss Dominican Republic but she was married so she is replaced by Dulcita LieggiUrvashi Rautela was crowned Miss India but did not meet the age requirement so she is sashing her replacement, Shilpa SinghThis year has had some shocking dethronements / replacements of ladies who were expected to compete at Miss Universe 2012 only to have their crowns taken away due to various circumstances. In April, the Dominican Republic originally crowned Carlina Duran who was considered a top contender for Miss Universe only to be dethroned after if was discovered that she was once married briefly in 2009 but shortly after had the marriage annulled and Carlina acted as if the marriage never happened. The rules state that a contestant must never have been married and as a result Carlina was stripped of her title and now Dominican Republic is being replaced by the 1st runner up, Dulcita Lieggi. Then India crowned stunning Urvashi Rautela who was also considered a very strong delegate and many speculated she would end India's 4 year drought since India hasn't placed since 2007. Unfortunately, it would be discovered that Urvashi was born a little too late. Even though, this year's Miss Universe pageant is being held at a very late date this year, the rule was that a contestant had to be 18 years of age by February 1, 2012 but Urvashi's birthdate is at a later date in February 1994 and therefore just barely didn't meet the age criteria. Urvashi also is a reigning titleholder for another pageant, Miss Tourism Queen of the Year International 2011 meaning she would have conflicting duties and as such, India will be represented by runner-up, Shilpa Singh. France and Gabon are also being represented by runners-up in their respective pageants. Miss France is being held around the same time as Miss Universe and the original titleholder, Delphine Wespiser will attend Miss France to crown her successor so runner-up Marie Payet will represent France instead this year.
But this year's most controversial national pageant would easily be my country of Canada. This year's Miss Universe Canada pageant made international headlines due to the controversy of the participation of transgendered contestant, Jenna Talackova, who was born male by the name of Walter but would later have sex reassignment surgery and is now recognized as female. Canadian contestants: Jenna Talackova (the first transgendered contestant), Sahar Biniaz (winner of Miss Universe Canada 2012 but cannot compete due to injury), Adwoa Yamoah (1st runner up at Miss Universe Canada 2012 who will now compete for Miss Universe) Originally, Jenna was accepted but when her story came out, she was denied entry into the Canadian pageant. Jenna then went public and with the involvement of famous attorney, Gloria Allred, Jenna was reinstated as a participant after the rule that a contestant had to be born female was changed so that Jenna could now compete. Allred called this rule blatantly discriminatory and at a press conference, Jenna showed her passport which indicates her sex as female. Jenna ended up getting her chance and competed for Miss Universe Canada and placed in the top 12 but did not advance to the top 5. Jenna was a co-winner of the Congeniality award. Jenna has seen much publicity as a result of what happened and was named one of the grand marshalls for Vancouver's Pride Parade this year. The winner of the Canada crown would be Sahar Biniaz of Vancouver who has competed in many other pageants. Sahar first competed for the Miss Universe Canada title in 2003 after I was there filming the British Columbia regionals in 2002 where Sahar was chosen as one of British Columbia's representatives but she did not place among the semifinalists at the highly competitive national pageant in 2003. Sahar would later compete for the 2008 Canada title and place as 1st runner up and so many years later, Sahar's dream come true and she won the 2012 Miss Universe Canada title. Sahar's reign was also wrought with controversy due to some comments she made regarding her dislike of the pitbull breed of dog because she said one once bit her. In spite of this, Sahar was considered a top contender and was expected by many to place in the semifinals at Miss Universe. Canada hasn't placed since 2006. A few days ago, it was announced on the Beauties of Canada website that due to unforeseen circumstances, Sahar would not be competing at Miss Universe due to a sprained calcaneus (heel bone). Sahar is now being replaced by 1st runner up, Adwoa Yamoah of Calgary, Alberta and Adwoa is now the 2nd black woman to represent Canada at Miss Universe after Juliette Powell in 1989. Juliette Powell would later gain popularity as the host of various shows in Canada like one of my favorite dance music shows of the 1990s, "Electric Circus" which featured dance music videos and had a club atmosphere featuring various people dancing to the songs played. The original winners of the Dominican Republic, India and Canada were considered frontrunners but the general consensus is that each of their replacements will probably not place.

So those are my prethoughts for now and after I have had a chance to review the early pictures and online close-up interviews after the delegates arrive, I will post a quick run through of what I think of each delegate, then a few days after the preliminaries, I will analyze each delegate and then post my final predictions so stay tuned!




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP