Sevenezuela is the operative word here are as the international pageant powerhouse of Venezuela claims its 7th Miss Universe crown thanks to Gabriela Isler. Affectionately known as Molly because as a baby, she resembled a chubby Molly doll, Gabriela has shown the world Venezuela remains on top and in control of the pageant game. Although, the U.S.A. still has 8 Miss Universe winners, a lot of people are expecting Venezuela to capture the crown yet again next year because the new Miss Venezuela, Migbelis Castellanos is absolutely stunning and is my winner so far of the delegates selected for Miss Universe 2014 so Migbelis could very well give Venezuela another back-to-back win as Venezuela is still the first and only country to win Miss Universe two years in a row when they did it in 2008 and 2009 thanks to Dayana Mendoza and Stefania Fernandez. My friend Hernan likes to point out patterns. He found several signs pointing to Venezuela as this year's winner prior to the pageant. For example, this is the 3rd time a Venezuelan Miss Universe win succeeds an American win which happened in 1981, 1996 and 2013 and almost happened in 1998 as Venezuela was 1st runner up that year. He also says Venezuela beat the devil twice as prior to this win, Venezuela had 6 winners, 6 1st runners up and 6 2nd runners up (666) and Venezuela also had 6 Miss Universes, 6 Miss Worlds and 6 Miss Internationals so this 7th Miss Universe win beats the mark of the beast so in a sense, Gabriela is Venezuela's savior. There seems to be a 39 year pattern (Brazil won 1968 and was 1st runner up in 2007, Philippines won 1973 and was 1st runner up in 2012 and Spain won 1974 and was 1st runner up in 2013) so does this mean that since Finland won 1975 that they will be 1st runner up in 2014? Or is it jinxed now that it has been mentioned?

Mel B., Gabriela Isler, Thomas Roberts The story of Russia hosting this year's pageant goes back to 1989 when during the 1989 Miss Universe pageant, there was a special segment featuring the crowning of the first Miss USSR, Julia Sukhanova. (Although, John Forsythe who was hosting that year pronounced her last name more like Fournova but then some suspect John might have had one too many Tequilas in Mexico as there were some instances when he was out of it as there was one point where he skipped announcing one of the judge's names which caused some cameraman panic and he also didn't always talk into his microphone and co-host Emma Samms would frantically hold her microphone up to his face so the audience could hear him. And, he also didn't announce Venezuela's name during the evening gown competition. And, his announcement of the winner was a little too delayed.) But enough about Forsythe and back to Miss USSR 1989! So Julia's crowning was set to creepy music which at one point sounded like someone was literally banging on an iron curtain. This was deemed a groundbreaking moment in the Communist Soviet Union and Julia conveyed a message in the spirit of fellowship, she said that she looked forward to the day when the Miss Universe pageant would be held in the Soviet Union. Well, fast-forward to 2013 and technically that day has come but the Soviet Union, of course, no longer exists and as a perhaps unintentionally defiant Miss USSR 1991, Yulia Lemigova declared, she comes from Moscow, Russia (instead of saying she was from the USSR). In 1992, there was a Miss Commonwealth of Independent States and then since 1994, the official country of Russia has competed at the Miss Universe pageant. There was also talk about boycotting this year's pageant and the Winter Olympics in Russia due to Russia's anti-gay laws and the discrimination experienced by Russia's LGBT community widely publicized throughout the world's media. Andy Cohen, who co-hosted Miss Universe in 2011 and 2012 declined on hosting this year but another openly gay man, the handsome MSNBC anchor/reporter Thomas Roberts stepped in to use this opportunity to show the world that people who happen to be gay are no different than anyone else and he did do a very commendable job so kudos to Thomas for taking that brave step. Mel B. (a.k.a. Scary Spice of the Spice Girls) served as co-host for the second time. Her first Miss Universe co-host stint was alongside Jerry Springer for Miss Universe 2008 in Vietnam which was also won by Venezuela so it looks like Mel B. hosting is good luck for Venezuela! Miss Universe was brought to Russia thanks to Russian billionaire, Aras Agalarov who runs Crocus International and of course, his son Emin was a featured performer for the evening gown competition. Miss Universe was a success in November 2013 so it is all systems go for the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia a few months after Miss Universe in February 2014.

The introduction and parade of nations this year was set to a brilliant song I love called "Clarity" by Zedd featuring Foxes and "Walking on Air" by Anise K. It was well done this year as I think the national costumes should always be featured during the parade of nations so they had a splitscreen of the delegate saying her introduction with the name and country captioned and a larger screen showing the delegate competing in the national costume competition. So the way this was done pleased me.

Israel-Yityish AynawSo how did I do with my predictions? Well, I correctly predicted 10 of the 16 semifinalists and got 2 honorable mentions (India and Nicaragua). The 4 ladies that missed my list were: Ecuador, China, Costa Rica, and Indonesia (all of whom were mentioned in the next tier below my honorable mentions). 3 of these 4 were eliminated in the first round but Ecuador got all the way up to 2nd runner up which surprised me because we all know Ecuador was my winner last year and when she didn't place, that made me think that Ecuador wouldn't get noticed this year but she was noticed in a big way! Philippines won the Internet vote and Nicaragua won the Best in National Costume award. Although it wasn't announced during the telecast to make room for Steven Tyler's performance, the winner of the Photogenic award was Poland and the Congeniality award went to China. And just what happened to the 6 ladies in my list that didn't place? Well, the first was the first black Miss Israel, the amazing Yityish (Titi) Aynaw who commanded the stage and gave a fierce performance and was an absolute standout but she was taken out of the running perhaps because had she placed, it probably would have been hard to deny her as she easily could have gone all the way. Yet, some speculate that politics got in the way as Yityish has met U.S. president Barack Obama who is not well liked by Miss Universe pageant co-owner Donald Trump so could Yityish have been blacklisted due to this reason? In any case, Yityish was the ISH and I was quite disappointed that this incredible woman was denied. Next was Italy's stunner Luna Voce who was a tremendous beauty with a great body and she even won the Top Model of the World contest last year so Italy's absence from the semifinals was also shocking. France's Hinarani de Longeaux was on many lists and this exotic Tahitian beauty was expected to continue the streak that France had in the semifinals since they placed consistently from 2009 to 2012. Another streak broken was due to the absence of Australia from the semifinals. Australia had the longest running streak in the semifinals since they placed from 2008 to 2012. The current longest streak in the semifinals now belongs to the Philippines who have placed 4 years in a row from 2010 to 2013 and they made the top 5 in all of those years which is an impressive feat. Australia's Olivia Wells had a great body but perhaps her gown wasn't the most flattering but still some suspect that since Australian Gold and Kooey were not sponsors this year that Australia took a turn out. However, Italian company Yamamay was this year's swimsuit sponsor yet Italy didn't place. Colombia's Lucia Aldana was yet another well-spoken beauty with amazing eyes but she may have been deemed too religious which was the impression I got of her after watching her Truth and Dare video online and I also wish she kept the lighter hair color as I felt it flattered her more but she went with the darker hair to look more Russian but it was a move in the wrong direction. Finally, Azerbaijan was my final pick only because the Agalarov family responsible for bringing the Miss Universe pageant to Russia this year are originally from Azerbaijan and this country conveniently debuted in this year's pageant but her absence meant this year's semifinalists was a fairly and sensibly chosen group.



Winner=Venezuela-Gabriela Isler

Winner=Ukraine-Olga Storozhenko*

1st Runner Up=Spain-Patricia Rodriguez

1st Runner Up=Great Britain-Amy Willerton*

2nd Runner Up=Ecuador-Constanza Baez

2nd Runner Up=Israel-Yityish (Titi) Aynaw

3rd Runner Up=Philippines-Ariella Arida

3rd Runner Up=Dominican Republic-Yaritza Reyes*

4th Runner Up=Brazil-Jakelyne Oliveira

4th Runner Up=Venezuela-Gabriela Isler*



6. USA-Erin Brady

Puerto Rico-Monic Perez*

7. Ukraine-Olga Storozhenko

Italy-Luna Voce

8. Great Britain-Amy Willerton

Brazil-Jakelyne Oliveira*

9. Dominican Republic-Yaritza Reyes

Spain-Patricia Rodriguez*

10. India-Manasi Moghe

Philippines-Ariella Arida*



11. Costa Rica-Fabiana Granados

Switzerland-Dominique Rinderknecht*

12. Puerto Rico-Monic Perez

France-Hinarani de Longeaux

13. Indonesia-Whulandary Herman

Colombia-Lucia Aldana

14. Switzerland-Dominique Rinderknecht

Australia-Olivia Wells

15. China-Jin Ye

USA-Erin Brady*

16. Nicaragua-Nastassja Bolivar

Azerbaijan-Aysel Manafova


ALTERNATES:Russia, Jamaica, South Africa, Turkey, Czech Republic


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Peru, Poland, India*, Nicaragua*, Canada


* = made actual top 16

You'll also notice that there were rankings which means there were scores but instead of being shown on the telecast, viewers could participate online with the 'You Be the Judge' app where the scores were revealed as follows:


(in order of final rank)

Swimsuit Score

Gown Score

Average Score

1. Venezuela




2. Spain




3. Ecuador




4. Philippines




5. Brazil




6. USA




7. Ukraine




8. Great Britain




9. Dominican Republic




10. India




11. Costa Rica




12. Puerto Rico




13. Indonesia




14. Switzerland




15. China




16. Nicaragua




You'll notice from these scores that this year, the swimsuit and evening gown scores were averaged to determine the top 5 whereas it is known that in years 2007 to 2010, that the scores were not averaged and the top 5 in gown only advanced. Had the scores not been averaged this year, Ukraine and Great Britain would have made the top 5 instead of Philippines and Brazil. And I'm sure you know I'm upset about that since Ukraine and Great Britain were my top 2 this year!

Costa Rica, Ukraine, China, Ecuador, Great Britain, Indonesia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, USA, Nicaragua, Switzerland, India, Brazil, Philippines
After the top 16 were announced, it was on to the swimsuit competition set to the performance of Panic! At the Disco performing their songs, "Miss Jackson" and "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies". First up was Costa Rica who really does have a great body. Notice the indented waist and she was actually a pleasant entry in the semifinals. I really liked her silver gown so it would have been nice if she had advanced to the next round but it was not meant to be. Next up was my winner, Ukraine who also looked incredible and has such a naturally pretty face like a porcelain doll. China followed with a delegate who had a nice gown but was not a contender body-wise. Ecuador also is very photogenic and very fit. I thought her hips were somewhat wide making her thighs look larger but I was actually happy to see Constanza place as Ecuador was my winner last year but was ignored so I lost all hope in Ecuador but lo and behold, they make it all the way to 2nd runner up! Oh, why do they tease me like this?? Great Britain placed for the first time in history (I count this as a first placement since Great Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales) and the last time one of these countries placed was 30 years ago in 1983 so Britannia was long overdue for a placement and they came back big with the outstanding Amy Willerton who was amazing in swimsuit complete with her amazing body and sassy hairflips that I absolutely loved. Amy was the winner of the British reality competition, 'Signed by Katie Price' and is soon to be featured in another reality show 'I'm a Celebrity. Get Me Out of Here!' so Amy is destined for stardom and I hope she encourages future British contestants to deliver strong performances like she did. Indonesia followed and she did have a lot of crowd support as there are a lot of Indonesian pageant fans so it was good for them to get a placement. I wonder why she only went with her first name, Whulandary. I guess she wants to be like Madonna or Cher, known on a first-name basis. Venezuela, our eventual winner, actually dominated this competition getting the highest average score so I guess she was the obvious choice. She carried on the tradition of long-legged beauties that carry themselves impeccably and Osmel Sousa and the Venezuelan team always ensure their delegates are well prepared and it's amazing how they consistently deliver year after year. Dominican Republic was also one of my favorites. I loved her hair and sass. Even though, she had a humbling fall during a swimsuit fashion show the week prior to the pageant where Yaritza stepped into a hole in the stage where a fog machine was to shoot out fog during the show but she recovered magnificently. Puerto Rico looked incredible as is now expected of Puerto Rico but for some reason, she didn't advance so I'm not quite sure what exactly happened here. Spain followed and although I didn't quite get her at first, I started to see her appeal. She is from the Canary Islands and there is something about them! Former Miss Spain 2000, Helen Lindes and 1993's Eugenia Santana were also from the Canary Islands and Helen finished 2nd runner up at Miss Universe 2000 and Eugenia won the Photogenic award in 1993. Patricia was also originally crowned Miss Spain 2008 and placed in the top 15 at Miss World that year and her runner up, Claudia Moro competed at Miss Universe 2008 and placed in the top 10 that year so I recalled Puerto Rico's Ana Rosa Brito placing 8th at Miss Universe 1997 and then her runner up, Brenda Liz Lopez placing 8th at Miss Universe 1999 so this factoid told me that logically Spain would place in the top 10 but she made it all the way to 1st runner up! I guess the Ukraine in Spain stays mainly in Great Britayn! That makes sense, doesn't it?? USA followed and she looked decent. I don't think I would have advanced her to the top 10 as I felt some of the others had better bodies. Nicaragua had the immense pressure of living up to her previous major title won in 2011, Nuestra Belleza Latina which is a reality competition featuring Latina contestants competing in weekly challenges until a winner is crowned and it is judged by Osmel Sousa who is the man behind Venezuela's pageant successes and Lupita Jones, Miss Universe 1991 is also a judge for that show. Although, Nastassja has a great body, I think she wasn't as facially strong and she had the lowest score of the semifinalists. Switzerland was a standout from the beginning sporting that modelesque short hair even before Miley Cyrus started with a similar look so Dominique was great but her body wasn't strong enough to advance past this round. India seems to be on its way back as this former pageant powerhouse experienced a drought from 2008 to 2011. This seems to stem from when franchise holder Femina Magazine changed the rankings in 2007 for India's delegate as prior to that year, the winner went to Miss Universe and the runner up went to Miss World but the order was reversed in 2007 and although Puja Gupta placed in the top 10 in 2007, India would miss the cut the following years. In 2010, Sushmita Sen (Miss Universe 1994 and India's first Miss Universe) started a separate Miss India-Universe pageant but the winners selected in that pageant did not meet the standards expected of the Indian delegate. Last year's delegate managed to place thanks to winning the online vote as Sushmita disclosed on her Twitter account. This year, Femina regained the rights to select India's representative for Miss Universe in a separate pageant and Manasi Moghe won and she managed to bring India back to the top 10. Although, I was somewhat surprised to see her get that far as although Manasi is gorgeous, her tummy looked a bit flabby and her upper body and hips looked somewhat disproportionate to me. Brazil was next and she does have a great body so she was expected to place especially since Brazil will likely be the host country for Miss Universe 2014 but I was hoping that the next delegate, Philippines would host 2014 to continue the 20 year chain since Philippines hosted in 1974 and 1994, but history doesn't seem to matter these days. Philippines won the online vote and of course, I immediately knew it was her when they were announcing the semifinalists since she hadn't been called yet. Ariella had tremendous pressure on her since Philippines had just won the Miss World title and Philippines had also placed in the top 5 for the previous 3 years. She handled the pressure well winning the swimsuit competition as she showed off her great body and catwalk skills and I liked that Ariella kept her hair down.
Spain, Philippines, Great Britain, India, Brazil, USA, Ukraine, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominican Republic
After the top 10 were announced, it was on to the evening gown competition set to Emin's performances of "In Another Life" and "Amor" and the music video for "Amor" also features Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo. An interesting factoid about Emin is that not only is he the son of Russian billionaire, Aras Agalarov but he is also married to Leyla Aliyeva, the daughter of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Emerging first of the top 10 was Spain in a heavenly white gown and it was this gown that made me see the light in her. Next up was Philippines following a gown that worried me a lot and the judges saw it too as Philippines ranked 9th in the gown competition but her swimsuit score saved her because the scores were averaged. I thought this gown looked too home-made particularly with the wrinkles at the bust and the fabric looked cheap but the yellow color was fine with her skintone. Next was Great Britain who had that Jessica Rabbit look and was so incredibly hot and that gown fit Amy's body perfectly and she carried it so well and it was wise of her to change gowns as it was easy to see she had difficulty walking in her preliminary gown even though it was a delicious confection of white and lavender swirls. India followed in a pink number that moved interestingly on stage as she walked and she did look very nice. Brazil's gown also worried me as I'm not really a fan of the salmon color but she carried it well. USA's Erin Brady had a nice gown with the red liquid beading on the skirt and the nude illusion red swirls on the arms and sides and it was a significant improvement from the gown she wore at Miss USA. Ukraine simply looked angelic in her white gown and I was so hoping to see her advance to the next round as Olga was just a vision of elegance. Ecuador had a unique light teal gown that was a standout and this color has been sported by numerous winners of Miss Universe Canada so this color probably pops on stage. Gabriela Isler models the Yamamay million dollar swimsuitTop 5: Venezuela, Philippines, Spain, Brazil, Ecuador Venezuela wore an intricately designed glistening long-sleeved white gown and she looked every bit the winner that she is. Dominican Republic carried on their tradition of extremely daringly sexy gowns like the ones worn by Candida Lara in 1995 and Marianne Cruz Gonzalez in 2008 and Yaritza showed off her gown with supreme confidence. I adored her.

Then we saw the million dollar Yamamay swimsuit worn by Olivia Culpo during the telecast and later worn by Gabriela Isler shortly after her win. It really just looked like a bedazzled version of the swimsuits the rest of the delegates were wearing but it's a nice design. I just wish Olivia wasn't tangled in that white fur so that she could show it all off a little better.

After the top 5 was announced, I was somewhat disillusioned as many of my favorites weren't in it. Did you notice that 3 of my top 5 (Ukraine, Great Britain and Dominican Republic) were in the 6 to 10 range and 3 delegates in my 6 to 10 range (Spain, Philippines and Brazil) made the top 5 so it flipflopped on me but Venezuela was the only one in my top 5 left in the actual top 5 and she won! Next it was on to the judge's questions. Ecuador's question came from judge Philip Kirkorov, "What would happen to the world if we could no longer use the internet?" Ecuador replied, "Thank you very much for the question. Zdrastvooyte, Russia! I believe that computers themselves as one of the technologies nowadays. It has got its advantages and disadvantages and one of the disadvantages is that we are no longer as close together with our families. I would like to use this moment to tell the teenagers and everybody that we should use the methodology of computers and Internet in a positive way. It is never too late to start. Let us start right now. Thank you all very much." Ecuador handled her question well and had a good message in her answer. Brazil's question from judge Carol Alt was, "What is your opinion in places that do not allow women to vote, travel abroad, or drive cars?" Brazil replied, "Good evening, everybody. In my opinion, we as women achieved our independence through time. Unfortunately, nowadays we still have some problems with our independence as women. But we need to keep our open minds because nowadays we are homemakers, we are out there in the work force. In my country, we have a female president. We are capable of everything." Brazil also gave a decent answer. Spain's question came from judge Anne Vyalitsyna, "What is the most significant thing we can do to help elect more women to political offices around the world?" Spain replied, "Good evening. I believe that in order to select a good woman, she must possess good qualities in order to perform a good job: discipline, know how to adapt herself, how to respond. Her work, her performance and fulfilling her job. (Hesitated breath) Thank you so much." She didn't end this answer that well but still it was a good response. Next came Philippines whose question was from judge Tara Lipinski, "What can be done about the lack of jobs for young people starting their careers around the world?" Philippines answered, "Preevyet, Russia! For the people who have lack of jobs, I do believe that we people should invest in education and that is my primary advocacy, because we all know that if everyone of us is educated and well aware of what we are doing, we could land into jobs and we could land good careers in the future. So education is the primary source and a ticket for a better future. Thank you." Philippines handled her question very well and this response coupled with the crowd response probably pulled her ahead of Brazil at this point. Top 2: Venezuela and SpainTop 2: Venezuela and Spain Finally, Venezuela's question came from judge Steven Tyler, "What is your biggest fear and how do you plan to overcome it?" Venezuela replied, "I believe that one may have a lot of fears but nonetheless this is nothing negative. I believe we should overcome all of our fears and this in turn would make us much stronger. And thusly, we can become much stronger persons. As soon as we overcome our fears and we're sure of ourselves, we can face any challenge. Thank you." I think Venezuela's delivery really gave everyone the impression that she nailed it and I also felt that this was the strongest answer of the lot. I think all the answers were good and were well delivered. There were no viral video moments here so the final judgment really ended up coming down to how the delegates performed in the previous rounds. The top 3 was the same but Philippines edged ahead of Brazil in the final ranking flipflopping their average scores.

The final five had their final look set to Fergie's "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody" and then Steven Tyler performed, "Dream On" from his band Aerosmith and so because of Tyler's performance, the ending was slightly edited and the rankings were announced. Brazil was 4th runner up, Philippines was 3rd runner up, Ecuador was 2nd runner up and it came down to Spain and Venezuela. The winning moment was a bit confusing and rushed since they now announce the winner before the runner-up as has been done since 2011 so Spain and Venezuela sort of stood there confused but the telecast cut out Gabriela's true reaction to her win which was great and there was almost another disastrous crowning as the crown was put on first and then the sash but the sash caught the crown and it fell off but Gabriela and Olivia caught it before it could hit the ground so disaster averted and we ended up with a very good Miss Universe production this year. I should note that previous pageants normally aired to cater to American audiences for prime time but this year's pageant was tape delayed and was originally held around 10 p.m. in Moscow's local time which was in the afternoon for the Americas so a lot of people were forced to avoid social media that day so as to not spoil the surprise. This is only the third time that Europe hosted the Miss Universe pageant. The first two times were in Athens, Greece in 1973 which was also a tape delayed telecast and in 2000, the pageant was held in Nicosia, Cyprus at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. local time and even the 1995 Miss Universe pageant in Windhoek, Namibia was held at 1 a.m. their time so I'm sure the Moscow audience was pleased that it was held at a decent time.

So will Venezuela pull off another back-to-back Miss Universe win in 2014? We'll find out next year in the same country that is hosting the 2014 World Cup but in the city of Fortaleza, Brazil. Congratulations, Molly!

 THE PRETHOUGHTS - Miss Universe 2013




Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP