THOUGHTS OF MISS UNIVERSE

2014/15



THE PRETHOUGHTS


THE RESULTS (Jan. 26, 2015)



That second Miss Universe crown that has eluded the world's finest coffee land for so long has finally been won. Colombia's Paulina Vega Dieppa is the new Miss Universe succeeding Colombia's first win in 1958 by Luz Marina Zuluaga. Will Paulina now be given a mansion and famously declared tax exempt for life? I will say I was somewhat disillusioned by the results of this pageant but I'll live with it. The choices for the top 5 were just not very good and the question and answer rounds reflected this. The last name "Vega" is the first last name to be shared by two Miss Universe titleholders as it is also the last name of Miss Universe 2003, Amelia Vega.


Being that this is the 2nd Miss Universe crown for Colombia, my friend Paulo pointed an interesting pattern from recent years that pointed to this win for this year that he dubbed Miss Universe not-2014 being that we are now in 2015. In recent years, the big 4 pageants have followed a certain pattern. In 2012, Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International crowned the candidates from the host country (plus Miss Earth awarded the 1st runner-up to the home girl). In 2013, the big 4 crowns were shared by Venezuela and the Philippines, each country claiming two winners. In 2014, the other big 4 pageant winners were their countries’ second outright victory: Puerto Rico won its second Miss International after first winning it in 1987, Miss Earth crowned a second Filipino candidate six years after their first one, and although Rolene Strauss is actually the third Miss World from South Africa, she was the second to win it on the spot, as Anneline Kriel inherited the title in 1974 after the dethronement of Helen Morgan. Now, Miss Universe follows this pattern as a country has won its second title and that country is Colombia. He even picked her to win!

In terms of my predictions, I picked 10 of the 15 semifinalists plus 1 alternate (Ukraine) and 2 honorable mentions (Netherlands and Brazil). The 2 that escaped my list were in my next tier (Italy and Indonesia) so the semifinalists made sense this year for the most part. The 5 ladies in my list that didn't place were: Lithuania, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Canada and Serbia. Did you notice something interesting? I picked Ecuador to win Miss Universe 2012 but Ecuador was 2nd runner up in 2013. In 2013, I picked Ukraine to win and now Ukraine was 2nd runner up for 2014/15! Does this mean that since Venezuela was my winner this year that Venezuela will be 2nd runner up in the next Miss Universe pageant?? Or have I jinxed it now that I mentioned it?

I will post my full commentary on this 63rd Miss Universe pageant on February 4.


ACTUAL TOP 15:

MY PREDICTIONS:

Winner=Colombia-Paulina Vega Dieppa

Winner=Venezuela-Migbelis Castellanos*

1st Runner Up=USA-Nia Sanchez

1st Runner Up=Philippines-Mary Jean Lastimosa*

2nd Runner Up=Ukraine-Diana Harkusha

2nd Runner Up=Argentina-Valentina Ferrer*

3rd Runner Up=Netherlands-Yasmin Verheijen

3rd Runner Up=France-Camille Cerf*

4th Runner Up=Jamaica-Kaci Fennell

4th Runner Up=Colombia-Paulina Vega Dieppa*

FINALISTS (alpha'l):

FINALISTS:

Argentina-Valentina Ferrer

India-Noyonita Lodh*

Australia-Tegan Martin

Jamaica-Kaci Fennell*

Philippines-Mary Jean Lastimosa

Lithuania-Patricija Belousova

Spain-Desirée Cordero Ferrer

Spain-Desirée Cordero Ferrer*

Venezuela-Migbelis Castellanos

USA-Nia Sanchez*

SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l):

SEMIFINALISTS:

Brazil-Melissa Gurgel

Puerto Rico-Gabriela Berrios

France-Camille Cerf

Thailand-Pimbongkod Chankaew

India-Noyonita Lodh

Australia-Tegan Martin*

Indonesia-Elvira Devinamira

Canada-Chanel Beckenlehner

Italy-Valentina Bonariva

Serbia-Andjelka Tomasevic

 

ALTERNATES: Gabon, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ukraine*, Russia

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Brazil*, Netherlands*, Great Britain, Dominican Republic, Czech Republic

 

* = made actual top 15

THE PREDICTIONS (Jan. 23, 2015)

And it is that magical time once again! But before I reveal my predictions, here are some ways that you can get involved. After the preliminaries, the National Costume competition was held:

The top 5 national costumes were chosen and they are: Argentina, Canada, Germany, India and Indonesia.
Fans are able to vote for their favorite of the Top 5 National Costumes via Twitter using the contestants hashtag and #MissUniverse

The contestant hashtags are:

#MissUniverseArgentina


#MissUniverseCanada


#MissUniverseGermany


#MissUniverseIndia


#MissUniverseIndonesia


The contestant with the highest number of votes will be the National Costume Fan Vote Winner and will be announced live during the show. To view rules please visit, http://www.missuniverse.com/rules/twitter.

This year, you could be asking the final question. Submit a question in the comments section of the Miss Universe facebook page and your question could be asked during the live telecast of the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant on Sunday, January 25 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on NBC. Start asking your questions now!

For official rules go to: http://www.missuniverse.com/rules/fb



So after watching the preliminaries and observing the delegates through videos and coupled with my background knowledge of each delegate, I now present to you my predictions for Miss Universe 2014/15.


TOM'S FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR MISS UNIVERSE 2014/15


Winner=Venezuela-Migbelis Castellanos

For those of you who read my previous prethoughts, it should come as no shock to anyone that Migbelis has topped my list since she was crowned Miss Venezuela and stayed at the top of my list ever since. This woman is incredible and I am so impressed with the star power, the charisma and the astounding beauty of Migbelis. Pageants like Miss Universe were created to find true superstars like Migbelis who is poised to do the job and do it well. This woman just has a glow about her and has potential to be a memorable Miss Universe for the ages. She represents the pageant powerhouse nation that has consistently crowned extraordinary queens and sets the standard. Venezuela is the only country to win the Miss Universe crown two years in a row (2008 and 2009) and they are poised to do it again with Migbelis!

1st Runner Up=Philippines-Mary Jean Lastimosa

The pearl of the Orient has been in the top 5 for the last four years and it looks like M.J. could make it a 5th year but could she get that elusive win? She has been very strong throughout the competition with a great body, hair, catwalk, good speaking ability and brains as she even has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. Her gown is also very strong so will it all pay off for Mary Jean? Is she the one?

2nd Runner Up=Argentina-Valentina Ferrer

Don't cry for her, Argentina! The truth is you have a contender! The country of tango and Evita Peron has shocked us all this year by sending us this dynamo named Valentina. She has an absolute knockout body and is easily considered one of the favorites this year. Argentina hasn't really had strong showings at Miss Universe as their last placement in 2006 was a surprise and they hadn't placed prior to that since 1979 but they did win the crown in 1962. Argentina has suddenly come back incredibly strong with Valentina who has a legitimate shot this year so will it happen?

3rd Runner Up=France-Camille Cerf

Camille is a breathtaking beauty with a phenomenal body. Even though, she was just crowned Miss France last month and probably had the least amount of preparation, she is among this year's strongest contenders. Add to that, France being heavily featured in the news recently due to the tragic shooting at the French satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo's head office. Camille has also experienced a death in her own family with her father passing away in September so all of this adds to her strength and gives her the opportunity to get France's first top 5 placement since their only win back in 1953.

4th Runner Up=Colombia-Paulina Vega Dieppa

Paulina has the body and gown in addition to the crowd support to propel her into the top 5. I'm not so sure about her attitude or sincerity so this is why I rank her as 4th runner up but we shall see what happens. Colombia hasn't won the crown since 1958 and they have four notable 1st runner ups in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2008.

FINALISTS:

India-Noyonita Lodh

The country which embodies unity through diversity sends us a very strong delegate with Noyonita this year. India seems to be back on track to reclaim its former powerhouse status that eluded them after a four year absence from the semifinals from 2008 to 2011 but Noyonita should likely get a 3rd year in a row in the semifinals for India. She has a great overall look, body and catwalk skills. Her height is a bit of a concern and I hope she wears the right gown on finals also.

Jamaica-Kaci Fennell

The island that moves to the beat of reggae sends us one of their next top models! As a winner of Jamaica's Next Top Model, Kaci used her moves, cool style and distinct look to become an outstanding favorite this year and she is poised to a get a spot for her country which earned a 1st runner up placement in 2010 but has never won the Miss Universe crown.

Lithuania-Patricija Belousova

She is petite but she is powerful! Patricija is also incredibly beautiful and being a dancer, she has a great body and moves well on stage and I think she has what it takes to get Lithuania's first placement ever at Miss Universe and has potential to go far in the competition.

Spain-Desirée Cordero

Desirée is also a favorite to follow up their 1st runner up placement last year. She does have a strong overall look and presence but I am still concerned about that tattoo near her crotch. Still, she has a chance to get Spain's 2nd Miss Universe win as their only win was back in 1974.

USA-Nia Sanchez

And obviously, we'll throw a top 10 spot to the host country. Nia has been consistent as expected. At first, I thought she was wearing the same gown that she won Miss USA in but as she came closer, we saw it was a different gown but red seems to be a good color for her.

SEMIFINALISTS:

Puerto Rico-Gabriela Berrios

Gabriela has a great story about her weight loss and a placement for her would be encouraging. Puerto Ricans have performed very well over the years and Gabriela is the latest to add to this list.

Thailand-Pimbongkod Chankaew

She is just an interesting delegate. It's unusual to see a Thai with such long legs and I think she may get a spot for that reason alone. She also goes by the name Allison Sansom and was actually born in California. She is half German and was actually a replacement delegate when the original Thai winner, Weluree Ditsayabut resigned. Thailand is another pageant crazy nation having won the Miss Universe title twice in 1965 and 1988 so will Allison get Thailand's first placement since 2007?

Australia-Tegan Martin

The Aussies' long-running streak was interrupted after not placing last year. Tegan is another summery blonde delegate with a great overall look, body and gown. Her gown actually reminds me of a blue version of the one worn by Tiana Griggs who was my pick to win Miss USA 2014. Australia has seen a resurgence in its interest in pageantry since their most recent win by Jennifer Hawkins in 2004. Tegan had placed as a runner-up a few times before finally winning the Australian title so will that experience pay off and will she bring the land down under back in the spotlight?

Canada-Chanel Beckenlehner

Chanel is hot with her sexy body and she made international headlines with her national costume and I think she also impressed Donald Trump with her golf swing. While this gown might be a bit of a risk, I think she pulled it off. Canada hasn't placed since 2006 so will Chanel bring the land of the maple leaf that long awaited placement?

Serbia-Andjelka Tomasevic

Andjelka is another beauty that I wish had gone with a different gown but she still is really a great delegate with a nice body and she's funny too as shown in her online video so I expect her to place. Her experience as a top 8 finalist at Miss Earth 2013 may come in handy here.

ALTERNATES:

Gabon-Maggaly Ornellia Nguema

Of the African delegates, I felt that Maggaly was the strongest. She has a great body, hair and gown and could place but she just barely escaped my list but I would not be surprised to see her get her country's first placement ever.

Costa Rica-Karina Ramos

Karina has a good look and performed well so it was hard to place her as an alternate. If Karina does place, it will be the first time in history for Costa Rica to get a consecutive placement in the semifinals.

Mexico-Josselyn Garciglia

I think Mexico can do better than this. She is okay but I'm not wowed enough by her to give her a spot but other people seem to favor her so I'll give her an alternate spot.

Ukraine-Diana Harkusha

Diana replaced a very strong delegate, Anna Andres, who resigned the Ukraine title and Diana has been making the most of this opportunity but I'm not overly impressed with her but she could place so we'll see what happens.

Russia-Yulia Alipova

Other people seem to like her but her face isn't great to me and she has been looking a bit gaunt so after preliminaries, I decided to just put her as an alternate.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Brazil-Melissa Gurgel

She is short but feisty. Her gown is nice but Brazil bailing on hosting this year probably doesn't look good on them and I can see the delegate being omitted so she is among my honorable mentions this year.

Netherlands-Yasmin Verheijen

She is one of many exotic delegates sent by the Netherlands in recent years and is favored by some. Still, I think the gown makes her hips look wide and while she could place, I just don't feel strongly about her.

Great Britain-Grace Levy

The land of the Union Jack placed last year but a follow-up placement seems unlikely although Grace is a decent delegate, I just am not seeing enough power here.

Dominican Republic-Kimberly Castillo

This girl was picked as a favorite by prominent Venezuelan pageant coach, Osmel Sousa and she also favors two sponsors: Yamamay, since she has Italian roots and even won Miss Italia nel Mundo 2010 and Pawa Dominicana Airlines who sponsored some of the delegate online profile videos. Looking objectively at her, she is just way too thin and her nose just looks wrong so she only gets an honorable mentions spot only because of these other factors but I don't think she should place.

Czech Republic-Gabriela Frankova

Gabriela represents the country of the new crown sponsor, DIC so that could get her a spot but her performance in preliminaries wasn't enough to pull her into my list so I've given her an honorable mention spot.


Other delegates that I might mention include the following:

Kazakhstan - She's a doctor with what looks to be an amazing video but I can't discount the body on this one as she has a very small upper body and wider hips.

Italy - She has a great body and she is a dancer but her face looks too mature and her gown didn't help either.

Slovak Republic - She's beautiful and has large breasts but I think her extreme bustiness made her look heavier. She also tripped a bit on her gown during preliminaries. Slovak Republic also rarely gets noticed as this country has only placed once back in 1994.

Guyana - She has a nice face but this country needs better preparation. I'm glad she had a better gown for preliminaries but it still didn't flatter her enough.

Indonesia - She could be up there but I just didn't feel that she was among the stronger delegates and placements for Indonesia are rare.

Angola - She has a nice face and decent body but I felt could do with a little more polishing.

Guam - She was Miss Arizona USA 2010 but didn't place at Miss USA and again she shows up at Miss Universe looking great but if she didn't place at Miss USA, I don't think it will happen here.

South Africa - She speaks well but her body isn't right for this competition.

Ecuador - A formidable delegate but I don't feel strongly enough about her.

Austria - Other people seem to like her. I don't see it.

China - The most populated country sends an okay delegate but I think she could be stronger.

Turks & Caicos - She has a decent body but this country's delegates need to be really strong to get noticed.

Ghana - This one speaks well and has a distinct look but I don't see it happening.

Israel - The whole selfie controversy could favor her.

Kenya - She has a but of a Lupita N'yongo look to her but she doesn't have the body for this competition.




Okay, so there are my final picks so the truth will be revealed on January 25 when we learn who actually places, who the surprises are and who will be the new Miss Universe!!!



THIRD ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (Jan. 21, 2015)

PREPARE FOR PRELIMINARIES

Preliminaries can be viewed January 21 at http://new.livestream.com/accounts/11717047/events/3730794 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (4:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time)

Preliminary judges include: Michelle McLean-Miss Universe 1992 from Namibia, Jimmy Nguyen, Azucena Cierco, Corinne Nicolas, Lloyd Boston, Tyler Tixier and Jeneine Doucette-White

But FIRST, Let Me Take A #Selfie

Israel, Lebanon, Slovenia, Japan(says in extreme valley girl voice) Like, Oh my God, you guys! You know what's, like, totally ratchet?!?! This, like, whole controversy over that selfie where Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon are seen standing next to each other. It's like, I mean, these countries are, like, at war and stuff? And they're all like, 'I guess I took a good selfie, selfie, selfie (eyes progressively widen psychotically), selfie, selfie, selfie... Let me take a selfie.' It's like there's, like, so much drama. I'm just so sick of the drama. There's too much drama. Why all the drama? Drama. Ugh. This is like totally a big to-do about nothing. It's like, can't we all just get along? What's with all this fraternizing with the enemy noise? Like, why can't we just be free? It's not even summer, why does the DJ keep playing 'Summertime Sadness'? Who goes out on Mondays? Like, the walls in the mall are totally, totally tall.
So this little seemingly harmless selfie ended up becoming huge international news and has now become this year's pre-pageant publicity/controversial event. But this is nothing new. Previous pre-pageant controversy included when Puerto Rico's Joyce Giraud's provocative photos surfaced in 1998 and Spain's Helen Lindes had the same issue in 2000 and both of those ladies ended up as 2nd runner up in their respective Miss Universe pageants. In 2001, there were quite a few controversies but the biggest was the false suspicion that France's Elodie Gossuin might have been born male. There have been a lot of instances where the delegates from Israel and Lebanon shouldn't be seen standing next to each other. For example, in 2001, during the preliminaries, the delegates were grouped by region and Israel and Lebanon were next to each other alphabetically for the Mediterranean/Middle East/Africa group but they mixed up the order slightly so that Israel and Lebanon wouldn't be standing next to each other and it ended up throwing things off slightly. Israel ended up being a surprise semifinalist that year in 2001 so is that about to happen again this year? I have said that Israel's Doron Matalon does bear a bit of a resemblance to Dayanara Torres, Miss Universe 1993 so we shall soon find out what happens. Let's go dance. Like, fer sure.


SECOND ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (Jan. 16, 2015)

Miss Universe 2014/15 is in full swing and the delegates have very busy schedules of appearances and rehearsals and we shall soon learn who will be the chosen one. Performers for this year have been announced and they include Prince Royce and Nick Jonas whose video for his hit song 'Jealous' features a familiar face - his girlfriend, Miss Universe 2012 herself, Olivia Culpo.



And since this Miss Universe pageant is being held in Miami, I'll include a throwback song from the last pageant in Miami which was 1997. The swimsuit song for 1997 was a special version of "Patricia" by Perez Prado.



The 2014/15 Miss Universe Preliminary Competition will be held on Wednesday, January 21. Some of the finals night judges have been announced and they include: Manny Pacquiao, William Levy, Kristin Cavallari, Lisa Vanderpump and Louise Roe.

I will be posting my final predictions on January 23 and then we will all witness the magic unfold on January 25 on NBC when the Miss Universe 2014/15 pageant broadcasts live from Florida International University in Miami, Florida, USA. 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 88 delegates for Miss Universe 2014/15 after reviewing pictures and the online delegate videos which can be seen here in random order:



Albania-Zhaneta Byberi

Albania and Kosovo were both absent from last year's Miss Universe pageant in Russia because Kosovo is not recognized as a country in Russia so both of these countries which are directed by pageant photographer Fadil Berisha did not participate in last year's pageant but both are back this year. Albania has enjoyed some semifinalist placements in recent years with their most recent placement being in the top 10 in 2010. This year's delegate doesn't have the body for this competition so I don't expect her to place.

Angola-Zuleica Wilson

What a lovely face this girl has. Zuleica is one of this year's stronger African delegates and sometimes I think she will place and other times I have her as an alternate so I'm very unsure about her so I will determine after preliminaries where I place her. Angola last placed when they won the crown in 2011 thanks to Leila Lopes who still remains the Miss Universe with the longest reign.

Argentina-Valentina Ferrer

Don't cry for her, Argentina! Valentina has impressed me so much upon her arrival that she is currently in my top 5 if you can believe it. With her superb body and her glamourous overall look, Valentina has become an instant contender. The land of Evita Peron hasn't placed since 2006 and they have one Miss Universe winner, Norma Nolan in 1962.

Aruba-Digene Zimmerman

Placements for Aruba are rare and I'm not expecting that to change this year. Aruba's last and best placement was in 1996 when Taryn Mansell was 1st runner up.

Australia-Tegan Martin

Australia is strong this year and Tegan will very likely be among my semifinalist picks. Tegan placed as 1st runner up twice before finally winning her nation's crown so her experience and determination could pay off in a big way. Australia's long running streak was broken last year but Tegan hopes to bring pride back to the land down under. The Aussies have won the crown two times which were in 1972 (Kerry Anne Wells) and 2004 (Jennifer Hawkins).

Austria-Julia Furdea

Julia seems to be garnering some attention among other people as I have seen her making other people's lists but she is not currently among my choices as I don't feel she quite has the body for this competition but I can see why people like her. Austria's last and best placement was in 1977 when Eva Maria Duringer would place as 1st runner up and Eva would later marry one of the judges of that pageant, Roberto Cavalli.

Bahamas-Tomii Culmer

The Bahamas have never placed in the history of Miss Universe and I don't expect this year to change that.

Belgium-Anissa Blondin

It looks like another year out for Belgium as this year's delegate is not strong enough. They last placed in 2010 and have yet to win the crown.

Bolivia-Claudia Tavel

This year's pageant isn't in Los Angeles so they won't place. Of course, I'm kidding as a venue normally doesn't affect a country's chances but it is true that Bolivia's last two placements were when the Miss Universe pageant was held in Los Angeles (in 2006 and 1990). Claudia seems like a decent delegate but not strong enough for this competition.

Brazil-Melissa Gurgel

Brazil finds itself in the maybe, maybe not category this year. Melissa is among the shorter delegates but she is certainly feisty and spunky so she could place but also remember that Brazil didn't host this year as was initially rumored. Melissa also has the pressure of succeeding 3 consecutive top 5 placements for her country and while I don't think she will make the top 5, a semifinalist placement is possible and I do actually have her in my top 20 as of right now so we'll see what happens. Brazil has two Miss Universe winners: Ieda Maria Vargas in 1963 and Martha Vasconcellos in 1968.

British Virgin Islands-Jaynene Lewis

I think Nature's Little Secret will remain a secret this year.

Bulgaria-Kristina Georgieva

Yet another year when the land of roses sends a delegate that isn't quite right for this competition. Bulgaria has yet to place.

Canada-Chanel Beckenlehner

Chanel won a controversy-free Miss Universe Canada pageant this year, following 2013 which was a year when the wrong winner was crowned originally due to a score tabulation error which followed 2012, a highly publicized year featuring the first transgendered participant, Jenna Talackova. Chanel is a formidable candidate that could easily place this year as she is well prepared. She is currently among my semifinalist picks. The land of the maple leaf hasn't placed since 2006 so is it time for a return?

Chile-Hellen Marlene Toncio

This year's delegate is not strong enough so I don't see her placing. Chile's Cecilia Bolocco won their only Miss Universe crown in 1987 and their last placement was in 2004.

China-Yanliang Hu

As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, China's original winner gave up her crown and so we know have the runner-up competing. The world's most populated country pulled off a surprise placement last year so will luck strike twice? This year's delegate could place but I'm not positive so I will wait until preliminaries to determine where to put her.

Colombia-Paulina Vega Dieppa

The world's finest coffee land will have some loud crowd support as there is a large Colombian community in the Miami area. Paulina is currently among my top 5 picks as she does have an amazing body and overall look. I'm not so sure about her personality though. Still, Colombia is always well prepared although Paulina's successor to the Colombian crown, Ariadna Gutierrez is already considered even more of a top contender for the next Miss Universe crown. Colombia won the Miss Universe crown in 1958 and had 4 1st runner up placements in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2008.

Costa Rica-Karina Ramos

Costa Rica is being talked about so this is one to keep an eye on. Recent years have been good to Costa Rica. After their first placement in 1954, they incredibly had to wait 50 years for their next placement in 2004 and they also placed in 2011 and again last year in 2013 so will Costa Rica pull off its first consecutive placement this year? Karina could do it. As of right now, she is among my alternates but that could change after preliminaries.

Croatia-Ivana Misura

Croatia has surprised us before so you never know. She's not among my picks at this moment so I'll be keeping an eye on her during preliminaries. Croatia has placed twice as a semifinalist (2009 and 2012).

Curacao-Laurien Angelista

Curacao hasn't placed since 1997 and I don't see this year's delegate placing either.

Czech Republic-Gabriela Frankova

The new crown sponsor DIC is based in the Czech Republic so naturally the Czech delegate is definitely one to watch. She is currently among my semifinalists at the moment as she is a fresh, sweet beauty and an interesting tidbit is that her birthday is on Christmas Day, December 25th so will Gabriela become a new savior for the Czechs? Czech Republic has never won the crown but they did have a 4 year streak in the semifinals from 2007 to 2010 so is it time for a return?

Dominican Republic-Kimberly Castillo

Prominent Venezuelan pageant coach, Osmel Sousa pegged Dominican Republic as one to watch this year along with his delegate, Venezuela and Colombia also. This girl also seems to favor two sponsors: PAWA Dominicana Airlines who sponsored some of the Youtube videos of each of the delegates and Yamamay, the swimsuit sponsor is from Italy and Kimberly has Italian roots and even won Miss Italia nel Mundo 2010. These signs seem to point to a placement but I personally find her almost a bit too thin and not quite right facially either so I don't really want to give her a spot but I may be forced to so as of right now, I have her as an alternate but that could change after preliminaries. Dominican Republic won the crown in 2003 thanks to Amelia Vega and did place in the top 10 last year.

Ecuador-Alejandra Argudo

Ecuador pulled off their highest placement ever last year when Constanza Baez placed as 2nd runner up which was amazing for a country like Ecuador that rarely gets noticed so Ecuador now also has a chance to pull off another consecutive placement. I have a feeling it won't happen it year but Alejandra is a fine delegate so I wouldn't be surprised to see her as a semifinalist either.

Egypt-Lara Debbane

The land of ancient wonders and modern progress has never placed in the history of Miss Universe but they do have one Miss World winner back in 1954. I don't think this year's delegate is strong enough to place this year so it looks like another year out for Egypt who returns this year after a two year absence.

El Salvador-Patricia Murillo

Patricia is decent but probably not strong enough to place this year. El Salvador was 1st runner up back in 1955 and they haven't placed since 1996.

Ethiopia-Hiwot Mamo

Hiwot was 1st runner up at the 2013 Miss Grand International pageant so that experience could help her but I don't see a placement at Miss Universe for her. Ethiopia placed once back in 2006 as a semifinalist.

Finland-Bea Toivonen

Like mother, like daughter! Bea Toivonen is the daughter of Miss Finland 1985, Marja Kinnunen who also competed for Miss Universe in Miami! But like her mother, I don't see Bea placing as her body doesn't quite meet the standard for this pageant but I love the family connection here similarly to how the reigning Miss Teen USA, K. Lee Graham is the daughter of Miss South Carolina Teen USA 1985, Jennifer Neuen. A little side note that Miss USA 2015 has quite a few notable sisters of previous delegates competing so naturally that will be mentioned in my prethoughts for that pageant when the time comes. Finland hasn't placed since 1996 and they have 2 Miss Universe winners (in 1952 and 1975).

France-Camille Cerf

Camille won the Miss France crown just last month on December 6 so she probably had the least amount of preparation for Miss Universe but it doesn't seem to matter because she is also among the strongest! In fact, Camille is in my top 5 at the moment as she is just an incredible delegate with a great overall look and seems to be a pretty universal favorite. Add to that, France being heavily featured in the news due to the recent tragic shootings in France at the office of the French satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo so the timing is perfect for the French delegate to have a strong showing as a universal symbol of freedom. Camille also has experienced a recent death in her own family as her father passed away in September from cancer. France won the Miss Universe crown once back in 1953 but they have not made the top 5 since then even though they have had quite a few semifinalists over the years so will this be the year? France is one of three countries that has competed at every Miss Universe pageant since its inception in 1952 (Canada and Germany are the other two and USA was disqualified in 1957).

Gabon-Maggaly Ornellia Nguema

There are possibilities here. Maggaly is among the stronger African delegates. In fact, she placed as 2nd runner up at the 2014 Miss Supranational pageant so that experience could pay off here. Right now, I have her in my top 20 as I think she could do it so keep an eye on her as she could become Gabon's first semifinalist at Miss Universe.

Georgia-Ana Zubashvili

Georgia has never placed and I don't expect that to change this year.

Germany-Josefina Donat

Josefina has a very nice face. She definitely has a look of a celebrity. She looks a bit like Kelly Ripa to me. Although, Germany has been sending facially strong delegates recently, they also need to focus on the body also as I feel this delegate will not place because her body is not strong enough. Germany hasn't placed since 2002 and they won the crown once back in 1961.

Ghana-Abena Appiah

Abena is a talented musician who has a very unique look and actually interviews very well and although most people don't expect her to place, she has potential to be a surprise placement. Ghana last placed back in 1999 and they have never won the crown.

Great Britain-Grace Levy

Grace is among my honorable mentions at this moment as she could place but I'm not entirely sure at this stage. She has the pressure of succeeding last year's excellent British delegate, Amy Willerton who made the top 10 so will Grace be able to do it?

Greece-Ismini Dafopoulou

I'm not expecting her to place but she seems like a decent delegate. Greece hasn't placed since 2005 and won the crown once in 1964.

Guam-Brittany Bell

Brittany Bell gets her chance at the Miss Universe crown after not placing at Miss USA 2010 representing Arizona even though she was among my top 5 picks for Miss USA 2010. Even though I really like Brittany, I feel she might suffer the same fate as other country hoppers like Anastagia Pierre and Erica Nego who both competed at Miss USA 2009 then represented other countries at Miss Universe 2011 but didn't place. Guam has placed twice (1970 as a semifinalist and 1982 as 1st runner up).

Guatemala-Ana Montufar Urrutia

The heart of the Mundo Maya last placed in 2010 but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Guyana-Niketa Barker

I actually like Niketa a lot as she has a very nice face and overall look but even though this country neighbors Venezuela, they aren't anywhere near them in terms of styling but I may have her as an honorable mention after I see her in preliminaries.

Haiti-Christie Desir

Haiti isn't expected to place but I like that she is really involved in the music world. Haiti's best placement was in 1975 when Gerthie David finished as 1st runner up.

Honduras-Gabriela Ordonez

Honduras hasn't placed since 1955 which makes them the country that has had to wait the longest for a repeat semifinalist. While, Gabriela does have a nice look about her, she isn't quite strong enough to place.

Hungary-Henrietta Kalemen

Hungary has surprised us before but I don't see a placement this year for them. Their last placement was in 2012.

India-Noyonita Lodh

The land where love is the essence of life seems to be coming back to the powerhouse status that it once had. After a four year absence from the semifinals from 2008 to 2011, India is back on track and is expected to place for a 3rd year in a row with the very striking Noyonita Lodh. She is currently among my top 10 semifinalists as she has a strong overall look and walks and speaks very well. My concern is her height but can she overcome the odds? India has won 2 Miss Universe twice thanks to Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.

Indonesia-Elvira Devinamira

Indonesia pulled off a surprise placement last year so will it happen again? Even though they have only placed twice as semifinalists, Indonesia seems to have a large Miss Universe following. Right now, I'm not sure about her but there are possibilities here so I'll be watching her in preliminaries.

Ireland-Lisa Madden

The emerald isle returns after a one year absence but with a delegate that is not expected to place. Ireland last placed in 2010 and they have never won the crown but have placed as 2nd runner up twice (1963 and 1983).

Israel-Doron Matalon

Doron's face reminds me a bit of Dayanara Torres, Miss Universe 1993 but I'm not expecting a placement for them this year. Israel last placed in 2005 and Rina Messinger is Israel's only Miss Universe winning the crown in 1976.

Italy-Valentina Bonariva

The land of culture, pasta and fashion has never won the Miss Universe crown but they do have two 1st runner ups (1960 and 1987) but I don't think she is as facially strong. I'm not expecting her to place unless... she gets a little... help. (cough) Yamamay (cough).

Jamaica-Kaci Fennell

Kaci is among my top 10 picks at the moment as this girl has a great overall, distinct look and cool style and I expect to see her do well. As a winner of Jamaica's Next Top Model, this girl certainly has an unmistakable presence. Even though the island of reggae has won Miss World 3 times, they have never won the Miss Universe crown but their best placement was their most recent placement as 1st runner up in 2010.

Japan-Keiko Tsuji

Japan last placed in 2008 and they have won the crown in 1959 and 2007. This year's delegate is not strong enough.

Kazakhstan-Aiday Issayeva

She works as a doctor so I don't know that Miss Universe is necessarily the right avenue for her to take but she is making a few lists. She's not among my picks at the moment but who knows? Kazakhstan has never placed so Aiday has an opportunity to be their first semifinalist.

Kenya-Gaylyne Ayugi

Kenya has returned after several years last competing in 2005 and this year's delegate has a distinct look but I don't see her getting Kenya's first placement.

Korea-Ye Bin Yoo

Her body isn't strong enough even though she has a decent face but I don't see her placing. Korea last placed in 2007 and the closest they came to the crown was a 1st runner up placement in 1988.

Kosovo-Artnesa Krasniqi

Kosovo returns after a noted absence last year but is also not expected to place. Their highest placement was as 2nd runner up in 2009.

Lebanon-Saly Greige

She doesn't have the right body type so it is unlikely that the land of the cedars will place this year. Lebanon hasn't placed since 1973 and they have one winner, Georgina Rizk in 1971.

Lithuania-Patricija Belousova

Welcome to my top 10, Lithuania!! This girl has really impressed me as Patricija is really gorgeous with that stunning face and flowing hair. She's a dancer so she has a nice body and moves well on stage. Even though she is somewhat petite, she completely draws me in with her outstanding beauty. I will be very happy to see Patricija get Lithuania's very first Miss Universe placement.

Malaysia-Sabrina Beneett

She doesn't have the body so it looks like another year out for Malaysia. They have only placed once which was back in 1970.

Mauritius-Pallavi Gungaram

Mauritius has never placed and unfortunately I don't see that changing this year as this year's delegate doesn't quite have the body.

Mexico-Josselyn Garciglia

I expect more from the Mexican delegate and although I'm sure she will have loud crowd support, I don't find this year's delegate to be strong enough. Right now, I have her as an honorable mention but I'll see if she can convince me after preliminaries. Mexico last placed in 2012 and won the crown twice in 1991 and 2010.

Myanmar-Sharr Htut Eaindra

Myanmar isn't expected to place this year as I don't find this delegate strong enough.

Netherlands-Yasmin Verheijen

This year's Dutch delegate is a possibility. Netherlands has had several exotic representatives like this one but as of right now, she is an alternate for me. She has a decent overall look but I don't know that she will make enough of an impact so we'll see if she changes my mind after preliminaries. Netherlands' most recent placement was in 2011 and Angela Visser won the crown for Holland in 1989.

New Zealand-Rachel Millns

New Zealand won the crown once in 1983 but the Kiwis haven't placed since 1992 surprisingly and this year's delegate isn't expected to change that.

Nicaragua-Marline Barberena

The land of lakes and volcanoes placed last year but this year's delegate is not expected to place.

Nigeria-Queen Celestine

Placements for Nigeria are rare. Their only placement was in 2001 by Agbani Darego who would go on to win Miss World later that year. This year's delegate is not expected to place.

Norway-Elise Dalby

The land of the fjords hasn't placed since 2005 and they won the crown once in 1990. This year's delegate is a long shot and is not expected to place and I think this country could be a lot more competitive.

Panama-Yomatzy Hazlewood

This tropical isthmus last placed in 2011 but I don't find this delegate competitive enough.

Paraguay-Sally Jara Davalos

She's okay but not strong enough. Paraguay has never won and they last placed in 2006 and 2004 placing as 3rd runner up both times.

Peru - Jimena Vecco

Although, she is the tallest delegate this year at 6 feet tall, I don't find her that facially strong so I'm passing on her. Peru last placed in 2012 and they did win the crown in 1957.

Philippines-Mary Jean Lastimosa

Mary Jean remains among my top 5 presently. The Philippines have placed in the top 5 for four years in a row so Mary Jean obviously has a tremendous amount of pressure on her to see if she will indeed make it 5 years in a row and possibly get that elusive win. She also has a great overall look with strong catwalk skills and speaks well so she has what it takes to make it.

Poland-Marcela Chmielowska

I think she is a nice girl but she's not in my list at this moment. We'll see if preliminaries change that.

Portugal-Patricia Da Silva

It's good to see Portugal return to the pageant as they got their first placement ever in 2011 after they stopped competing after 2002 but then they stopped competing again until this year. This year's delegate is not expected to place though.

Puerto Rico-Gabriela Berrios

Gabriela is tall with a nice body and in her video, she talked about how obesity was a problem for her and her family but she overcame it and finds herself as semifinalist material. She is among my top 15 at the moment as delegates from the shining star of the Caribbean normally come well prepared. Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe crown 5 times (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001 and 2006).

Russia-Yulia Alipova

Last year's host country sends us Yulia this year who is also currently among my semifinalists as she seems to be noticed all around. But she has been in and out of my list since I don't really find her facially strong so I'll wait until preliminaries to determine exactly where I put her. Russia last placed in 2012 and their only winner, Oxana Fedorova was dethroned in 2002.

Serbia-Andjelka Tomasevic

As mentioned earlier, Andjelka placed in the top 8 of Miss Earth 2013 and she is also among my top 15 picks for Miss Universe and she will probably stay there as she is simply Andjelic!

Singapore-Rathi Menon

She's a maybe. Placements for Singapore are rare but she is noticeable. Singapore last placed in 1987 which was also the year they hosted the Miss Universe pageant.

Slovak Republic-Silvia Prochadzkova

I like this girl as she is actually quite lovely. She is also quite busty which I find sometimes gets rewarded but usually gets punished at Miss Universe. Slovak Republic placed only once which was in 1994 so this country tends to get overlooked and I have her as an honorable mention at present so will Silvia do it?

Slovenia-Urska Bracko

Slovenia placed only once back in 2007 but this year's delegate is a long-face... I mean a long-shot... long-shot.

South Africa-Ziphozakhe Zokufa

After Rolene Strauss won Miss World, we have her replacement Ziphozakhe, who is one who speaks well as is normally expected of South African delegates so that could pull her into the semifinals. I don't think she quite has the right look so I think I might have her as an honorable mention but South Africa has surprised us before so I will determine after preliminaries where I place her. South Africa last placed in 2012 and last won the crown in 1978.

Spain-Desirée Cordero

Spain returns with another strong delegate this year to follow up their 1st runner up placement last year thanks to Patricia Yurena Rodriguez who prior to giving up her national crown made headlines after revealing she is a lesbian. This year, we have Desirée who is also among my semifinalists at the moment as she has a strong overall look and carries herself well. My concern is the tattoo near her crotch and it could get frowned upon. Spain won the Miss Universe crown once in 1974.

Sri Lanka-Avanti Marianne

I'm not expecting her to place. Sri Lanka last placed in 1955 as 2nd runner up back when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon.

St. Lucia-Roxanne Didier-Nicholas

I'm not expecting her to place. St. Lucia has never placed.

Sweden-Camilla Hansson

Sweden isn't expected to place again this year. This nation was once extremely successful and they should step up their game as their quality of delegates has really plummeted over the years. Sweden has won the crown 3 times (1955, 1966 and 1984) and they last placed in 2009.

Switzerland-Zoe Metthez

I don't see a placement for the land of the Alps and chocolates this year. Switzerland placed last year but they have never won the crown. Their best placement was in 2006 when Lauriane Gillieron finished as 2nd runner up.

Tanzania-Nale Boniface

Tanzania last placed in 2007 but I don't see this year's delegate placing.

Thailand-Pimbongkod Chankaew

I have her as an alternate presently but I have a feeling she is going to place. She's tall and seems to have a decent body so I will determine after preliminaries what to do with her. Thailand hasn't placed since 2007 and they have won two Miss Universe crowns in the years of 1965 and 1988.

Trinidad & Tobago-Jevon King

Trinidad & Tobago won the crown in 1977 and 1998 and they had a streak in the semifinals from 2003 to 2006 but they seem to have struggled since. This year's delegate is also not expected to place.

Turkey-Dilan Cicek Deniz

Turkey pulled off a surprise placement in 2012 but I don't see it happening this year.

Turks & Caicos-Shanice Williams

She's decent but I don't think she may be strong enough. The Turks & Caicos islands haven't placed since 1987.

Ukraine-Diana Harkusha

Diana replaced Anna Andres who was considered a very strong delegate but she resigned giving Diana this opportunity and she seems to be making the most of it and she is a formidable follow-up to last year's excellent delegate who finished in the top 10. At present, I have Diana in my top 20.

Uruguay-Johana Riva Garabetian

This one has some risqué photos in her past but she seems to have cleaned up her image somewhat. Still, she could get noticed but it doesn't seem likely. Uruguay hasn't placed since 1985.

USA-Nia Sanchez

Nia is in my top 10 and she will probably stay there. Being the host delegate, Nia will have the crowd support obviously. Apart from that, she has been looking impressive and has a lot of pageant experience so she is very ready for this pageant.

Venezuela-Migbelis Castellanos

And finally, my queen, Migbelis! Venezuela has won 7 Miss Universe crowns and many other international pageants proving to the world that this country has the pageant game down to a science. Venezuela is the only country to have won Miss Universe two years in a row (2008 and 2009) and it looks like they are poised to do it again. Those of you who read my first round prethoughts know how enamored I am by this charismatic delegate. Migbelis is the life of the party and she just shines and sparkles in every picture and video and I am amazed by her ethereal glow. As far as I'm concerned, this pageant is a race for second place! Go Migbelis!



So there you have it! Again, preliminaries are on January 21 and I will post my final predictions on January 23 and then the truth will be unveiled on January 25 on NBC!!







FIRST ROUND PRETHOUGHTS (Jan. 6, 2015)

BrazilUSAPhilippines
GuyanaBolivia, Hungary, ThailandCanada, Ecuador
AustraliaFinland

January 25, 2015 is the big night when the new Miss Universe will be crowned and will be broadcast live on NBC. And prior to that, we will study the delegates carefully on January 21 when each competes in the preliminary competition. The delegates are arriving in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. so it is time for my first round prethoughts for this 63rd Miss Universe pageant which will be hosted once again by MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts who returns after hosting for the first time last year and he is joined by Natalie Morales, who returns for a 3rd time as a host after her stints as co-host for Miss Universe 2010 and 2011.

Leap Year

Wait. What year is this again?? After anxiously awaiting to learning the date and venue of the 63rd Miss Universe pageant, we learned in September 2014 that 2014 would be the first year since the inception of the Miss Universe pageant in 1952 to not have a Miss Universe pageant in it. Originally, it was thought to be scheduled for January 18 and then it was later confirmed that it would be held in Miami, Florida on January 25, 2015. Since this year's pageant is again being held in the U.S.A., it shows that it is indeed a struggle to get other countries to host the event. There was speculation last year that this pageant would be held in Fortaleza, Brazil even though I was hoping the Philippines would host the 2014 Miss Universe pageant to continue the 20 year chain since Philippines also hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1974 and 1994 so I thought it only logical that they would host again for 2014 but alas, it was not to be. And there would be no Miss Universe pageant in 2014. So this begs the question: Will there be two Miss Universe pageants in 2015 like Miss America did in 2013 (one in January 2013 and one in September 2013) or will the following 64th Miss Universe pageant be in 2016 and there will never be a 2014 Miss Universe titleholder? This leap year syndrome also plagued the Miss America pageant in 2005. The Miss America pageant had normally post-dated its title when Alabama's Deidre Downs was crowned Miss America 2005 winning her crown in September 2004 but the 2006 Miss America pageant was actually held in 2006 in the month of January after it was dropped from the ABC network and was show on cable network CMT and Oklahoma's Jennifer Berry won her title Miss America 2006 in the actual year 2006 making 2005 a year without a Miss America pageant much like 2014 became a year without a Miss Universe pageant. Armi Kuusela of Finland was crowned the first official Miss Universe and her sash says 1953 although she was crowned in 1952Yvonne Ryding, Miss Universe 1984 who won her crown in Miami crowns her successor Deborah Carthy Deu, Miss Universe 1985 in Miami The Miss America pageant struggled to find a network home during those years. 2007 was on CMT, 2008-2010 were on TLC, In 2011, Miss America found itself back on ABC but since then the pageant has been a paid presentation so the Miss America organization has to pay ABC to air the pageant. Miss America didn't go back to having a post-dated title until 2013 when New York's Mallory Hagan won Miss America 2013 and later that year in September 2013, New York's Nina Davuluri won Miss America 2014 and things went back to normal for that pageant. But it took 9 years for Miss America to return to normalcy so I hope it doesn't take that long for Miss Universe to return to normal but it is possible that 2014 could be a forever skipped year so time will tell what happens with the dating of the winners title. I have been told that whoever wins the 63rd Miss Universe pageant being held on January 25, 2015 will still technically be named Miss Universe 2014 but I'm pretty sure they will be extra careful not to mention the year and simply call this the 63rd Miss Universe pageant rather than Miss Universe 2014. Mind you, the Miss Universes of the 1950s all had post-dated titles (i.e. the first official Miss Universe, Finland's Armi Kuusela's sash said Miss Universe 1953 but she was crowned in 1952 so would we be pushing all the Miss Universe titleholders from 1960 forward one year?) Maybe Miss Universe should have kept the title postdated back then to avoid the confusion caused by the skipped year of 2014. But who would have seen this coming? History has been wrecked! Some speculate that the reasoning behind this Miss Universe pageant being delayed was actually caused by scheduling from NBC who co-owns the pageant with Donald Trump because of the tie-in with Donald Trump's other NBC show, 'Celebrity Apprentice' which started on January 4, 2015 and this edition was expected to be held in 2014 but was delayed by the network to the current season so I'm sure that there's some connection there. That and the delay of trying to find a venue outside of the United States but since that didn't materialize, Miss Universe is back again in Miami for the first time since 1997. This time it is being held in the FIU arena at Florida International University in Doral, Miami, Florida. The Miami region has hosted more Miss Universe pageants than any other city having hosted from 1960 to 1971, 1984, 1985, 1997 and now 2014/15. This delayed pageant also gives Gabriela Isler, the second longest reign as Miss Universe and the first reign to span over 3 calendar years. The longest Miss Universe reign still belongs to Miss Universe 2011, Angola's Leila Lopes who reigned from September 12, 2011 to December 19, 2012 = 15 months and 1 week. Gabriela Isler's reign from November 9, 2013 to January 25, 2015 was 14 months and 2 weeks pushing Miss Universe 2005, Canada's Natalie Glebova to the third longest reign from May 31, 2005 to July 23, 2006 = 13 months and 3 weeks.


Tom's Crown Affair (The 2014/15 Edition)

Miss Universe 1952, Armi Kuusela of FinlandMiss Universe 1953, Christiane Martel of FranceMiss Universe 1954, Miriam Stevenson of the U.S.A.Miss Universe 1962, Norma Nolan of ArgentinaMiss Universe 1963, Ieda Maria Vargas of BrazilMiss Universe 1973, Margarita Moran of the Philippines
Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quinones of Puerto Rico wearing the previous Miss Universe crown crowns the original Miss Universe 2002, Oxana Fedorova of Russia with the Mikimoto crown
A new era brings in yet another new crown. I, of course, still pout that they don't go back to the crown that was used for more Miss Universe titleholders than any other: the crown that was last worn by Denise Quinones, Miss Universe 2001. The first Miss Universe, Finland's Armi Kuusela was crowned in 1952 with an Empress of Russia's marriage crown, owned at the time by Cartier of New York. Miss Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza of VenezuelaMiss Universe 2009, Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela Miss Universe 1953, France's Christiane Martel was crowned with what I call the dangling star crown. Miss Universe 1954 to 1960 wore a laurel wreath inspired crown with a star at the centre. Miss Universe 1961 and 1962 wore what I call the orbit crown then in Miss Universe 1963 we had the initial prototype of the classic Miss Universe crown with the lady in the middle with scepter design that looked a little rough at first but was more perfected in 1973 and worn through to 2001. Then came the sponsored crown era. From 2002 to 2007, we had the Mikimoto crown. They conveniently bailed after Japan won in 2007 and in 2008, Dayana Mendoza was crowned with a Vietnamese company CAO Fine Jewelry's designed crown but when Dayana said her farewell the next year, she wore the Mikimoto crown oddly enough. Then from 2009 to 2013, it was the Diamond Nexus Labs crown named 'Peace' for which the online public voted likely because its design was the closest match to the classic Miss Universe crown last worn by the 2001 titleholders. On a little side note, when Miss Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza declared the winning crown was, 'Peace'. With Dayana's accent, it almost sounded like she yelled out, 'Piss!' Dayana's accent later came in handy when she appeared on the Celebrity Apprentice asking a florist on the phone if they had... peonies. In any case, here we are in the present with this 63rd edition and for 2014/15, Czech company DIC (Diamonds International Corporation) has designed a new crown as part of a ten year deal with the Miss Universe organization. Here we see a picture of reigning Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler wearing what some think might be a prototype of the crown to be unveiled during the final night's pageant but they could be teasing us and this might not be the actual crown.
Miss Universe 2013, Gabriela Isler of Venezuela tries what might be the new DIC crown



Venezuelan Veneration

Venezuela-Migbelis Castellanos
Venezuela-Migbelis CastellanosVenezuela-Migbelis CastellanosUnstoppable is a good word to describe Migbelis Lynette Castellanos, the woman who has been my winner for Miss Universe since she was crowned Miss Venezuela. I encourage all of you to watch this video of her appearance on a show called El Nuevo Dia and see why Migbelis has IT. That mysterious x-factor or star quality that sets her apart and makes her a winner.



Observe how she is not only incredibly beautiful but also very lively and animated and how she seems very in control and owns the moment which are all qualities that an excellent, memorable Miss Universe should possess. She has an irresistible charisma that is on par with that of former Venezuelan Miss Universe, Alicia Machado who won her crown in 1996 easily and Migbelis also has potential to handily run away with this year's competition. I've heard some people develop a resistance to a lot of winners coming from one part of the world. In fact, 8 of the last 13 Miss Universe titleholders were Latinas (2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013) but these countries come extremely well prepared and supported so it's no surprise to see them do well. It's also important to judge the girl and not the sash. There is also a huge Latin population in the Miami area so there will be loud crowd support for their delegates. Some have been quick to dismiss another Venezuelan win since Venezuela won last year but Venezuela is the only country to have won the Miss Universe title two years in a row (2008 and 2009) and it looks like they are poised to do it again. Venezuela has seven Miss Universe titleholders: Maritza Sayalero in 1979, Irene Saez in 1981, Barbara Palacios Teyde in 1986, Alicia Machado in 1996, Dayana Mendoza in 2008, Stefania Fernandez in 2009 and Gabriela Isler in 2013 so will this international renowned pageant powerhouse take it all again this year thanks to Migbelis? There was a point in 2014 when some dared to nickname her Pigbelis due to some photos that made it appear that she had gained weight but Migbelis has showed her detractors by showing up in Miami in supreme shape and focused on her goal of getting the crown. I would be extremely ecstatic to see Migbelis win it all.


YOLO Noyonita

India
India-Noyonita LodhLara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000 stands next to Noyonita Lodh upon winning the Miss Diva Universe title You Only Live Once so Noyonita Lodh of India took her once in a lifetime chance to compete for the Miss Universe crown and is also well prepared for this year's pageant showing up every inch a contender. The country where love is the essence of life seems to be making a comeback in the pageant world. India, the world's 2nd most populated country was once a powerhouse at the Miss Universe pageant placing every year except one from 1990 to 2002 but they had a 4 year absence from the semifinals from 2008 to 2011 but India looks poised to placed for a 3rd year in a row with promising Noyonita. Femina Magazine was back to holding a separate pageant to crown India's Miss Universe representative titled Miss Diva Universe. Manasi Moghe placed in the top 10 in 2013 also crowned in the Femina run pageant. India's Miss Universe representatives from 2010 to 2012 when former Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen organized the I Am She pageant to select India's representative. A lot of this conflict started due to the Miss World pageant deciding not to accept runners up to the Miss India crown as in the good old days, the highest scoring representative at the Femina Miss India pageant went to Miss Universe and the 2nd place delegate would go to Miss World but that all changed in 2007 where they flipped it so that the winner would go to Miss World and the runner up to Miss Universe. That obviously didn't go over well either but now India seems to have adapted to the differences of the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants and is holding separate pageants to crown appropriate titleholders for each pageant. Noyonita has also won awards for her dazzling catwalk skills and she is remarkably well-spoken which has become an expected trait of many Indian pageant representatives. India has 2 Miss Universe titleholders: Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000 so will Noyonita become their third?


She Told Me Her Name Was Mary Jean and She Caused A Scene!

Philippines-Mary Jean LastimosaMiss Philippines 2010, Venus Raj, Miss Philippines 2012, Janine Tugonon, Miss Philippines 2011, Shamcey SupsupM.J. (Mary Jean) Lastimosa is the pageant-obsessed nation of the Philippines' latest hope who is representing this tropical haven of Asia at this year's Miss Universe pageant. The Philippines placed as 1st runner up in 1999, then had a ten year absence from the semifinals but the 2010s have been very good for the Philippines as they currently hold the longest streak in the semifinals placing 4 years in a row now and all 4 of those were placements in the top 5 which is an astounding achievement. It began with Venus Raj placing as 4th runner up in 2010, Shamcey Supsup was 3rd runner up in 2011, Janine Tugonon was 1st runner up in 2012, and Ariella Arida was 3rd runner up in 2013. Interestingly enough, the Philippines has never had a 2nd runner up but they do have two winners of whom they are very proud, Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margarita Moran in 1973. Mary Jean Lastimosa competed previously for the Philippines' crown against the 2011 and 2012 winners who both fared well so with her experience, strong catwalk skills and overall appearance, Mary Jean could very well get yet another consecutive top 5 placement for the Philippines and possibly their third Miss Universe win. The Philippines has been doing very well lately in the international pageant scene winning various worldwide competitions. Adding to MJ's strength, she is also quite brainy holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Mindanao. Champion Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao is rumored to be a judge for this year's Miss Universe pageant which could help Mary Jean so shall the Lastimosa be first?


Jamaica Me Crazy

Jamaica
The island that moves to the beat of reggae is being represented by the intriguing Kaci Fennell who also won an edition of Jamaica's Next Top Model. Kaci's distinct look with her short hair may get her noticed in a big way. Even though Jamaica has won the Miss World title 3 times, Jamaica has yet to capture a Miss Universe crown although they did come close in 2010 when Yendi Phillips placed as 1st runner up to Mexico's Ximena Navarrete. Jamaica has had other sporadic placements. In 1991, Kimberley Mais placed in the top 6 and they also placed in the top 10 in the years of 1989, 1999 and 2004.


I've Got A Blank Space, Baby and I'll Write Your Name

There were some very strong delegates that were originally supposed to compete for this year's Miss Universe pageant that ended up being replaced. South Africa's Rolene Strauss won Miss World 2014 so Ziphozakhe Zokufa is now representing South Africa at Miss UniverseSouth Africa's Rolene Strauss won Miss World 2014 so Ziphozakhe Zokufa is now representing South Africa at Miss Universe Ukraine's Anna Andres resigned so Diana Harkusha is now representing Ukraine at Miss UniverseUkraine's Anna Andres resigned so Diana Harkusha is now representing Ukraine at Miss Universe Rolene Strauss won Miss South Africa and since the Miss World pageant was held before the Miss Universe pageant, she competed in the Miss World pageant and as predicted by numerous people including myself, Rolene did win the Miss World crown leaving a blank space to be filled by her runner up at Miss South Africa, Ziphozakhe Zokufa who now has the chance to compete for Miss Universe. In previous years, the Miss Universe pageant was normally held before Miss World in the calendar year but that all changed in 2012 when Miss World was held in August 2012 and Miss Universe was held in December 2012 and it has been like this ever since so this too is one thing that one can only wonder if it will ever return to the way it was. Had Miss Universe been held before the Miss World pageant, Rolene's participation could have changed everything but in the end, I feel that Miss World was the right pageant for Rolene anyway and it worked out well for her in the end. Ukraine also had a strong contender with their original winner, Anna Andres, who would have been an amazing follow up to last year's Ukrainian gem, Olga Storozhenko who was my prediction to win last year and also finished in the top 10. Anna resigned from her position due to personal reasons so runner up Diana Harkusha is now representing Ukraine at this year's Miss Universe pageant. China's representative is also a replacement. Naiqing (Nora) Xu was originally supposed to compete but resigned to complete her undergraduate education so Yanliang (Karen) Hu is now competing for Miss Universe as China's representative. Tanzania's Carolyne Bernard resigned due a foot fracture caused by a car accident so Nale Boniface is now representing Tanzania. Thailand's original rep, Weluree Ditsayabut resigned after making some political statements so runner-up Pimbongkod Chankaew is now representing Thailand. So will any or all of these replacements end up placing or not placing at Miss Universe? There have been replacements in previous pageants that have done extremely well so you really never can tell so we shall see what happens!


Other miscellaneous thoughts include:

Miss Finland 1985 is the mother of Miss Finland 2014Serbia-Like Mother, Like Daughter: Finland's Bea Toivonen is the daughter of Miss Finland 1985, Marja Kinnunen so I love to see beauty titles run in the family and Finland hasn't placed since 1996 when Lola Odusoga placed as 2nd runner up so is it time for a return? Finland even has 2 Miss Universe titleholders: Armi Kuusela (1952) and Anne Marie Pohtamo (1975).

-Serbia's representative, Andjelka Tomasevic is also considered a favorite this year and she also did quite well at the 2013 Miss Earth pageant placing in the top 8 at that pageant so how will she fare this time around?

-We have a similar scenario to Miss Universe 2011 which saw 3 delegates that competed at Miss USA compete. There was USA's Alyssa Campanella with Bahamas' Anastagia Pierre and Ghana's Yayra Erica Nego who both competed for Miss USA 2009. This year, in addition to Nia Sanchez representing the USA, Guam is being represented by Miss Arizona USA 2010, Brittany Bell who was among my top 5 predictions that year at Miss USA but somehow didn't place. Will that change this time around?

-Like the last Miss Universe pageant in Miami in 1997, Italy's Denny Mendez made the top 6 being the first black Miss Italy who was born in the Dominican Republic. Well, this year, the tables have turned and we have Kimberly Castillo, a girl with Italian roots is representing the Dominican Republic and she even won Miss Italia nel Mundo 2010. I'm also just mentioning that Italian company Yamamay is returning as swimsuit sponsor this year. Just throwing it out there... Prominent Venezuelan pageant coach, Osmel Sousa has his eye on Miss Dominican Republic as well as Colombia's Paulina Vega Dieppa who will also have loud crowd supporters in the Miami area so these ladies could also be ones to watch.



On January 16, I will be posting my second round prethoughts with comments on each delegate competing this year so stay tuned!



 

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Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP