So how do you end a turbulent year in pageantry?? With more turbulence, of course!!

Host Steve Harvey shows card with resultsHost Steve Harvey shows card with results 2015 became the first year to have two Miss Universe pageants in it to make up for the loss of a missing Miss Universe pageant in 2014. The 2014 pageant held in January 2015 seemed to tie in with then pageant co-owners NBC and Donald Trump’s competition, “The Celebrity Apprentice” which became the last edition of that show to be hosted by Donald Trump who is apparently being succeeded by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1996, Donald Trump purchased the Miss Universe Organization and later in 2003, NBC partnered with Donald Trump and started airing the Miss Universe pageant including its sister pageants Miss USA and Miss Teen USA and the first edition of “The Apprentice” began filming that year and aired in January 2004. Since 1996, one controversy after another put pageantry in the headlines over the years be it a fall during the evening gown competition or a dethronement and almost dethronements or just controversial answers given during competition. Dwindling interest in pageantry in the 90s which happens to be my favorite era in pageantry prompted the inevitability for controversy to be present for pageants to stay in the news and to get ratings. 2015 became a turning point when Donald Trump announced that he was running for president and made some controversial remarks about Mexicans that may have stemmed from a sour deal when Mexico hosted Miss Universe 2007 and the businessmen behind the deal didn’t pay up at first and it went to court but they won a significantly larger amount than what was initially owed but they couldn’t collect it since it got tied up in the Mexican court system. Miss Universe 2007 became an unpleasant experience when members of the predominantly Mexican audience booed then Miss USA, Rachel Smith even after she fell since she advanced to the 5 and the Mexican delegate was eliminated in the top 10. Trump was also booed when shown during the telecast which was an episode reminiscent of Miss Universe 1993 which was also held in Mexico City and when Miss Mexico didn’t make the top 10, boos throughout marred the event and then Miss USA, Kenya Moore was especially targeted along with then host, the legendary Dick Clark. When it came time for the Miss USA 2015 pageant, on June 24, one of the original performers, Latin singer J. Balvin said he would no longer participate at Miss USA because of Trump's comments and from there the Miss USA pageant needed a complete overhaul with new hosts, judges and performers and a new network but it happened and all came together nicely. A lot of Latin countries said they would also boycott Miss Universe at the time so change was inevitable and very much needed for the survival the Miss Universe family of pageants so Donald Trump ended up buying back the share in the pageants that he sold to NBC in 2002 after that year's winners were chosen. In 2015, NBC broke its ties with Donald Trump and refused to air Miss USA which ended up being picked up by the Reelz network which recognized that the delegates competing for Miss USA shouldn't have been punished for what happened so after Miss Teen USA happened, it was announced that Trump bought back NBC's share of the pageants and sold it all to the WME/IMG Group which heads the William Morris and Endeavor Agencies which are highly renowned talent and modelling agencies headed by executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell and then we learned that FOX would be the airing the pageants so it became the dawning of a new day! We’re here from every state and now we’re on our way-a-hey! But has much changed?? Donald Trump did host an episode of Saturday Night Live which is an NBC show in November 2015 after the deal was done so maybe there is more to this story than we know like perhaps they weren't too keen on keeping the pageants and this was more of an escape tactic... Trump is currently leading the polls of the Republican candidates and we will learn what the outcome of the U.S. presidential race is over on November 8, 2016 and whether or not all of this was worth it. So the timeline goes that Miss Universe aired on CBS from 1960 to 2002. NBC aired the pageants from 2003 to 2014/15 and now in 2015, FOX takes its turn in airing the pageants. The other major American network ABC is the one that airs the Miss America pageant.

The controversy ensued when the turbulent year of 2015 culminated in a now infamous crowning of the 1st runner up as Miss Universe. It was down to the final two, Colombia and Philippines and declared Colombia as the winner leaving us to believe that Colombia had become the second country to win Miss Universe two years in a row after Venezuela did it in 2009. While watching this pageant with friends, I pointed out that Colombia didn’t get a full year reign as Paulina Vega reigned as Miss Universe for almost 11 months from January 25, 2015 to December 20, 2015 (There have been shorter reigns though such as Barbara Palacios Teyde, Miss Universe 1986 who reigned just over 10 months from July 21, 1986 to May 27, 1987) and this seemed to justify Colombia winning again like when the Miss America pageant had two pageants in 2013 (one in January and one in September) and the state of New York won both times. After two minutes, Steve Harvey stumbled back on stage revealing that he read the card wrong and that the 1st runner up was Colombia and the new Miss Universe was actually Philippines. A shocked Pia Wurtzbach walked to the center stage where Ariadna Gutierrez was standing still wearing the crown and sash giving Paulina Vega the painstaking final duty to remove the crown from her fellow country’s delegate and crown Philippines. Steve Harvey took control of the situation as the ladies stood awkwardly together on stage and said he would take full responsibility for this and to not blame the ladies and that it was still a great night… It used to be that the 1st runner up was announced first and then the winner but since 2011, the winner was announced first and then the runner-up as is done in the onslaught of reality competitions such as American Idol which also is a FOX show and airs its last season in 2016. This may have caused confusion. I have even seen something like this happen at another pageant I attended. When I attended a Miss Vancouver pageant years ago, the male host said that the second princess (third place) was the girl who actually placed second and named her causing the female host to scream out “No!” and she then corrected him to say that the second princess was actually the girl who placed third. So perhaps Steve Harvey could have thought 1st runner up meant 1st place initially.

Ariadna Gutierrez is comforted by Urvashi Rautela But was it all a publicity stunt or some P.T. Barnum-esque plot to get us all talking about Miss Universe? This episode was all over the news and social media that night and the next few days so it indeed did get news outlets to actually cover and report on the pageant whereas if this was a normal crowning, it wouldn’t have been in the news. The length of time at the end of the telecast was also unusually long because in recent years, usually they cut to credits shortly after the crowning which further fueled the publicity stunt speculation. The girls didn’t come up to congratulate Ariadna right away and Australia’s Monika Radulovic said in a talk show that the teleprompter said Philippines won so they knew something was wrong. Backstage after her crowning, Pia called this a very non-traditional crowning and said it was very 2015. This is the age in which we live! Controversy leading to publicity has become the name of the game these days. When asked how he would handle it if he still owned the pageant, Donald Trump suggested that the two could have been co-winners. Perhaps he was suggesting what was done during Miss World 2010 where the USA’s Alexandria Mills won but her runner-up from Botswana often made appearances with her at various events. Just after the erroneous crowning, backstage, Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez said while wiping away tears that everything happens for a reason so she is happy. Ariadna certainly gained a lot of publicity from this so even bigger things are in store for her after all of this. And I’m not talking about the 1 million dollar deal she was offered to do a video with adult film company, Vivid Entertainment… I’m sure Ariadna will be warmly embraced by her country after this happened as Colombian pageant queens are often treated like royalty and she will get even more job offers that she otherwise would not have received if this hadn’t happened. There are a lot of Colombians though who refuse to accept her loss saying that there are pictures of her wearing the sash and crown. Ariadna was often said to be the doppleganger of Colombian celebrity, Sofia Vergara who tweeted, 'La Reina de todos modos @gutierrezary #colombia,' which in Spanish means 'The Queen anyway' and even Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos tweeted after deleting his initial congratulatory tweet saying to Ariadna "For us you'll always be our Miss Universe. We feel very proud." Some even deemed what happened doubly cruel to Colombia since their 1st Miss Universe, Luz Marina Zuluaga passed away earlier this month. 2015 may have been the first year to have two Miss Universe pageants in it but it was also the first year in which two Miss Universes passed away. The USA’s Sylvia Hitchcock Carson-Miss Universe 1967 passed away in August due to cancer and Colombia’s Luz Marina Zuluaga-Miss Universe 1958 passed away in December due to heart failure.

Pageantry has seen episodes like what happened this year before. Some examples include: Mrs. World 2006 where Alan Thicke as the host clearly announced that the winner was Mrs. Russia but the previous year’s winner mistakenly went and crowned the 1st runner-up Mrs. Costa Rica making her and many others believe that she had won. The director yelled, “What have you done?!?!” and the crown and sash were taken away from Mrs. Costa Rica and Mrs. Russia was crowned and sashed but this whole episode led to some enraged contestants venting about everything and emotions were high. Miss California USA 2008 saw the wrong winner, Cristina Silva crowned during the night of the pageant but the day after it was discovered there was an error in the tabulation of the final scores and the actual winner Raquel Beezley was later crowned and Silva no longer retained the title. A similar scenario to Miss California USA 2008 was Miss Universe Canada 2013 which also had the wrong winner Denise Garrido crowned on the night of the pageant and after a mistake in the final scores was corrected, the actual winner, Riza Santos was declared the winner the day later.

On to the Colombia-Philippines connection as it was interesting that Philippines and Colombia were the top 2 as the Miss Philippines pageant (Binibining Pilipinas) is actually directed by a very notable Colombian, Stella Marquez de Araneta who placed in the top 15 at Miss Universe 1960 then later reigned as the first Miss International in 1960 winning that crown for Colombia and later married a Filipino businessman. Previous Filipina delegates have also been wearing gowns by Colombian designer, Alfredo Barraza but Pia Wurtzbach didn’t wear a Barraza gown. She actually had a gown emergency since her original gown was ill-fitting so the red gown that she wore during the preliminary competition was one of nine that she chose from Los Angeles based Filipino designer, Oliver Tolentino who came to Pia’s rescue and the blue gown she wore for the final was designed by another Filipino designer, Albert Andrada.

As for the format of the show, a lot of people seem to feel that 3 hours is too long and drawn out and that the old, tighter 2 hour format used prior to 2014 was sufficient. The stage design for this pageant was very nice. Nowadays, with the LED screens in the background, stage changes can happen in an instant so we have come a long way. The parade of nations was done well featuring each delegate wearing their national costumes as it should be. I liked the little factoids voiced by Roselyn Sanchez after each delegate did her introduction. It reminded me of how it was done throughout the 90s when the delegates were announced as semifinalists. Like when, Daisy Fuentes in 1995 would tell us Colombia was first runner-up for the 3 years prior to that pageant and that year’s delegate was here to win. Yes. Make it sound like a competition and educate the masses with what countries have placed and won before for those who are just getting into Miss Universe. The parade of nations featured songs like: “Beautiful Now” by Zedd, “Lean On” by Major Lazer, and “Cheerleader” by Omi. Some standout costumes included: Australia’s Dame Edna inspired outfit with Sydney Opera House shoulders voted on by the public; Austria’s bearded costume of Austrian transgendered pop star, Conchita Wurst; Argentina’s 70-pound costume was very nicely designed; Denmark’s make-up was fabulous; France’s Eiffel Tower peace signs or as I call her the “Eyeful” Tower; Hungary’s Rubik’s Cube; Spain’s Don Quixote and the duality of man; Thailand’s Tuk Tuk; and USA’s red, white and blue bald eagle.



Winner=Philippines-Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach

Winner=India-Urvashi Rautela

1st Runner Up=Colombia-Ariadna Gutierrez

1st Runner Up=Colombia-Ariadna Gutierrez*

2nd Runner Up=USA-Olivia Jordan Thomas

2nd Runner Up=Venezuela-Mariana Jimenez*

FINALISTS (alpha'l):


Australia-Monika Radulovic

USA-Olivia Jordan Thomas*

France-Flora Coquerel

Philippines-Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach*



Curaçao-Kanisha Sluis

France-Flora Coquerel*

Dominican Republic-Clarissa Molina

Vietnam-Thi Huong Pham

Japan-Ariana Miyamoto

Thailand-Aniporn Chalermburanawong*

Thailand-Aniporn Chalermburanawong

Australia-Monika Radulovic*

Venezuela-Mariana Jimenez

Brazil-Marthina Brandt*



Belgium-Annelies Törös

Paraguay-Myriam Arevalos

Brazil-Marthina Brandt

Dominican Republic-Clarissa Molina*

Indonesia-Anindya Kusuma Putri

Peru-Laura Spoya

Mexico-Wendolly Esparza

Georgia-Janet Kerdikoshvili

South Africa-Refilwe Mthimunye

Kosovo-Mirjeta Shala


ALTERNATES: Finland, Netherlands, Belgium*, Japan*, Sweden


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Denmark, Spain, Ukraine, Italy, Czech Republic


* = made actual top 15

When it comes to predicting, we must continue to expect the unexpected. When the top 15 were announced, I heard Roselyn Sanchez say that along with the Miss Universe Organization, the preliminary judges picked the top 15 which tells me that the method implemented in 2005 for the preliminary judges to choose 9 and the remaining 6 to be chosen by the Miss Universe Organization is still in effect. After each semifinalist was announced, we got a video montage describing their background story and compelling stories normally influences the public’s perception of that contestant. In terms of my predictions, I picked 9 of the 15 semifinalists plus 2 alternates (Japan and Belgium). The 4 ladies that missed my list were Curaçao and Mexico (who were in the tier below my honorable mentions) and Indonesia and South Africa were the countries that I missed entirely. 3 of those 4 surprises were eliminated in the first round and Curaçao was eliminated after making the top 10. Did you also notice that this is the third year in a row that my 4th runner up won Miss Universe??? Now, what happened to my 6 ladies that didn’t place? First up was my winner, India’s Urvashi Rautela. This is the third time that the woman I chose to win didn’t even place. (The first time was 2007 when I chose South Africa to win but she didn’t place and then in 2012, I chose Ecuador as the winner but she didn’t place.) As mentioned in my first round prethoughts, Urvashi’s path to Miss Universe was a storied one. She originally won Miss India Universe in 2012 but there was a stupid rule in place that each contestant had to be 18 by February 1, 2012 even though the pageant itself was held late that year on December 20, 2012 but Urvashi turned 18 on February 25, 2012 and she was fully of age at the time of the pageant. Urvashi had also won Miss Tourism Queen of the Year 2011 and may have had obligations to that title. As a result, Urvashi’s Indian runner-up Shilpa Singh competed at Miss Universe 2012 instead placing among the semifinalists so Urvashi didn’t place, yet Shilpa did so that just goes to show you how random pageants can be sometimes. After working a few years as a Bollywood actress making a name for herself and even getting over 4 million Facebook followers, Urvashi started all over again and competed for the Miss India Universe title again and won it again the second time proving that she was a force to be reckoned with. Urvashi’s quest to become Miss Universe was her attempt to fulfill a dream but she didn’t need it as she is an established Bollywood actress but one can only wonder if this may do damage to her career since people now know that she didn’t place at Miss Universe so maybe it wasn’t worth it in the end. At times, Urvashi looked a lot like Miss India 1990, Suzanne Sablok who placed 8th at Miss Universe 1990. Urvashi was falling out of prediction lists after preliminaries because a lot of people thought she was overdoing it in her presentation style and was perhaps a bit too mechanical and even I felt that was the case but I’m pretty sure she did well in interview unless she came across as too proud and that might have turned people off. I still kept her as my winner though as my mind had been made up before preliminaries and there was that whole pattern I pointed out working in her favor reflecting the results of the 1994 Miss Universe pageant: USA placed 4th in 1994 and won in 2012, Venezuela placed 3rd in 1994 and won in 2013, Colombia placed 2nd in 1994 and won for 2014 and India placed 1st in 1994 so it seemed natural for India to win this year but pointing out this pattern seems to have jinxed it and perhaps made it revert to the country that hosted Miss Universe in 1994 (the Philippines)Perez Hilton, Niecy Nash, Pia Wurtzbach, Olivia Culpo, Emmitt Smith rather than the winner of that pageant. My top 5 also matched the order of the top 6 in 1994 excluding Slovak Republic and 3 of those 5 actually did make the top 5 but instead of India and Venezuela, it was Australia and France that made the top 5 this year. It’s so hard to resist a good pattern! The next to be excluded was Vietnam’s Thi Huong Pham who was an outstanding delegate this year having competed for Vietnam’s Top Model and Miss Vietnam Universe for a few years before winning it and she made Bjork step aside as we had a new swan gown to admire but I find a lot of these work-of-art print gowns tend to get punished like Sweden’s gown and Ohio’s gown at Miss USA earlier this year. Vietnam’s rep was gorgeous with an amazing body so it was a shock to many that she didn’t place but I did hear an interview with her and wasn’t really impressed so she may have lost it on interview and I also heard from someone who attended rehearsals that Vietnam was bad at taking direction so this was a possible reason to eliminate her. Paraguay’s Myriam Arevalos with her great body really presented with impact during the preliminaries especially in gown and it was enough to pull her into my list but she wasn’t really an early favorite so I wasn’t really terribly disappointed to see her not make it. Peru’s Laura Spoya has a great body but perhaps a bit shorter and some thought she looked a bit on the mature side so maybe that’s why she didn’t make it. Georgia’s Janet Kerdikoshvili was just gorgeous and takes a great picture so I thought she had what it took to place and be her country’s first semifinalist but it was not to be. Even though Janet’s body is great, her gown was a bit daring and I wasn’t sure about her interview skills so maybe that’s what did it. Finally, Kosovo’s Mirjeta Shala got her chance to compete after not being permitted to compete in 2013 as that year’s host country of Russia doesn’t recognize passports of Kosovo so I thought she would be rewarded this year particularly since her country’s pageant is directed by pageant photographer, Fadil Berisha but people also appreciated Mirjeta’s look reminiscent of old Hollywood and her preliminary gown presentation was very strong.

Some people feel that having only 4 judges plus the fan vote wasn’t a good idea. A lot of people don’t really like the idea of fan scoring being involved especially since there will be a lot of bias and lowballing of some contestants to support their girl and also the time zones around the world don’t necessarily make this live voting available to all countries at suitable times. Also the 4 judges (Niecy Nash, Perez Hilton, Emmitt Smith and Olivia Culpo-Miss Universe 2012) are all American so this made a lot of people think Miss USA had an unfair advantage. Olivia Jordan and Olivia Culpo both even attended Boston University but Olivia Jordan (born 1988) is actually older than Olivia Culpo (born 1992). The preliminaries had 7 judges that were perhaps more diverse.

After the top 15 were announced, it was on to the swimsuit competition accompanied by music from Charlie Puth performing his songs, “Marvin Gaye,” “One Call Away,” and “Some Type of Love” with Brazil’s Marthina Brandt up first and initially, I thought she had a long face so I wasn’t sure if she would place but that changed after preliminaries as there’s no denying she has a great body so I was actually surprised that she was eliminated in this round but she probably suffered from going first especially with the fan vote so with the newness of it all, she was the first test delegate for this updated method of judging. Brazil had an amazing gown so if she did advance she could have eased her way into the top 5. Australia’s Monika Radulovic who comes from a Bosnian refugee family that fled from war so she had a great and timely story given the current situation with Syrian refugees so this was a great story to highlight and Monika was strong and favored by many as a contender. Her body is amazing and her hair style seemed fixed to be perfect and stay that way. I just thought her nose was a bit prominent initially but after preliminaries, I was convinced that she would do well. Indonesia’s Anindya Kusuma Putri was the first surprise placement and this is the third year in a row that Indonesia has placed but they always get eliminated in the first round as they never quite have the right body type. Indonesia surprisingly has a lot of pageant fans and Anindya had a compelling story about being Muslim yet competing in pageants particularly in swimsuit against her father’s wishes. Still, I felt this was a spot that could have gone to another delegate. Indonesia may be hosting the Miss World pageant next year and I believe they have expressed interest in possibly hosting Miss Universe and they have been inviting Miss Universe titleholders to their country for literally decades so I think they are being rewarded for this. Dominican Republic’s Clarissa Molina had amazing twirls during the swimsuit competition. I wouldn’t have minded if she just twirled down the runway the whole time instead of walking! Clarissa also recently participated in the reality show Nuestra Belleza Latina which has Latina contestants competing and has weekly eliminations and even has noted Venezuelan pageant director, Osmel Sousa as the head judge similarly to Simon Cowell’s role on American Idol and similar shows. Clarissa placed 4th in Nuestra Belleza Latina even though originally she was denied a spot due to coming across as too arrogant but was later accepted as a finalist. It was no surprise to see her up there but her story about being bullied when moving to New Jersey may have helped. It’s interesting to note that there is a rumor floating that Dominican Republic might have said something to the delegate from British Virgin Islands that may have caused her to want to withdraw and she was temporarily removed from the official Miss Universe website but then later was restored to make this year’s class an even 80 delegates. Next up was our eventual winner, Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach with boobs jiggling all over the place when she did her fierce walk down the runway. Being half German on her father’s side and even born in Germany, Pia talked about her parents’ separation during her introductory video and how she became a breadwinner for her family. Pia is used to the spotlight being an actress since the age of 4 and she won the right to represent her country at Miss Universe on her third try so the timing was just right for her. To borrow a line from the former Miss Universe evening gown song, “You Are My Star” – Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through. Pia also continued the Philippines’ streak in the semifinals placing for a 6th year in a row giving the Philippines the longest streak of any country currently at Miss Universe. Brazil, USA and Venezuela are tied for the second longest streak in the semifinals placing 5 years in a row. France’s Flora Coquerel who I dubbed the Eyeful Tower followed looking tall and striking and her exotic look comes from also being biracial with a French father and Beninese mother. As we all know, her country suffered some horrific terrorist attacks this year and Flora was watching a soccer game where one of these attacks took place so this girl absolutely had a story to tell. USA’s Olivia Jordan Thomas followed with her video segment featuring her describing herself as not perfect which seemed to be a theme in this pageant and this was probably to make her more relatable as most beauty queens are expected to be perfect more often than not. Olivia holds the distinction of being the first woman to represent the USA at both Miss World and Miss Universe. Olivia placed in the top 20 of Miss World 2013 which coincidentally was also won by the Philippines just like Miss Universe 2015 so I guess Olivia’s participation in both of these pageants turned out to be good luck for the Philippines! Curaçao followed and I feared her placement because this is an example of a delegate that other people liked and I couldn’t understand why. Granted, she’s fit and all but wasn’t an outstanding beauty to me but they always do this to me, don’t they? Kanisha Sluis gives Curaçao its first placement since 1997 when Verna Vasquez won the preliminaries but finished 4th overall that year eliminated after the judge’s questions. Belgium’s Annelies Törös was next and this girl was absolutely my cup of tea looking gorgeous and sweet in many of her photos with a great body but I thought she wouldn’t get noticed so I put her as an alternate and her chin was a bit distracting at times but I was actually glad to see her place. Japan was next and I totally should have known she was going to place. Ariana Miyamoto is biracial with an African-American father and Japanese mother and her story about being discriminated against in Japan absolutely garnered sympathy points but if she didn’t have that story, I doubt she would have placed and I didn’t think her body was semifinalist material and I wonder what was up with that angry expression on her face. This placement was more about teaching Japan a lesson about tolerance and it didn’t hurt that one of the preliminary judges was Japanese. Steve Harvey, Slovenia's Ana Halozan, Paulina Vega Venezuela’s Mariana Jimenez and this international pageant powerhouse churned out yet another outstanding delegate with Mariana who perhaps had the best body of the pageant. Her walk, hair and styling were all on point as well and she actually would have been a worthy winner of this pageant. South Africa’s Refilwe Mthimunye was the next surprise delegate but as a law student, she is clearly quite intelligent and speaks very well so I’m sure she excelled in preliminary interviews. Her body type wasn’t right for the competition though as she appeared too thin and it didn’t help that the tag was sticking out on the back of her panties so she wasn’t going to advance further. Those hips don’t lie! Colombia’s Ariadna Gutierrez looked amazing with her fit, yet curvaceous body and she was actually a favorite of mine right from when she won her title. She is a very complete queen with an amazing overall style and her public speaking skills are strong. Next up was Mexico’s Wendolly Esparza who did end up getting that apology spot of which I spoke during my prethoughts after all. Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans during his announcement speech that he was running for president created a lot of chaos afterwards causing Mexico to almost boycott had Trump still owned the pageant so they were back in after WME/IMG took over but Wendolly probably would not have placed had this whole fiasco not happened so it worked to her advantage. It was no surprise that she was eliminated in the first round as she did appear out of shape but Mexico continues its perfect streak in Las Vegas because in the 5 years that Miss Universe was held in Las Vegas (1991, 1996, 2010, 2012 and 2015), Mexico placed in every one of those years and even won both of their Miss Universe crowns in Las Vegas. Another country that almost has a perfect streak in Vegas is France placing in each Vegas year except 1996 when they barely missed the semifinals placing 11th that year. Finally, Thailand’s Aniporn Chalermburanawong (I’m leaving that name alone) was a great delegate from that golden kingdom with a tall frame and lean body but above all, I loved the glow this girl emitted from her face enhanced by her beaming smile. Thailand is another country with a large pageant following as they have won the Miss Universe crown twice (1965 and 1988) and this is the first time that they advanced to the top 10 since their last win back in 1988. Thailand also won the online vote for the national costume competition and even though it wasn’t announced during the pageant, rumor has it that Angola’s Whitney Houston A. Shikongo won the Congeniality award but apparently there was no photogenic award this year.

I liked the little segments in between commercial breaks featuring events like Greece kicking the boom mic when showing off her high kicks, Montenegro saying she didn’t want to go back to her country after all the fun in Vegas, and Dominican Republic being miscaptioned as Miss Colombia for the pajama party segment. After Perez Hilton said he was thankful that Trump no longer owned the pageant to a loud audience reaction, it was time for us to discover what happened to Slovenia’s delegate Ana Haložan who was given a chance to walk the stage after it was revealed that she suffered an accident shortly after arriving in Las Vegas which caused one side of her face to become paralyzed but this was a really nice moment for Ana to be recognized because she couldn’t compete due to the situation changing the number of contestants from 81 to 80.

After the top 10 were announced, it was on to the evening gown competition with the Band Perry performing their songs, “Live Forever” and “Done.” USA was up first and I believe that this is the first time in Miss Universe history that the USA was ever called first of the top 10! Olivia changed from her red gown in the preliminaries to a showstopping classic white number with a flowing cape and this gown seemed to have won universal approval. Colombia then came out confidently carrying on the spectacular Colombian gown tradition with this sparkling champagne gown that I’m sure you had to see this live to get the full effect as this type of gown really catches the lights on stage. Japan followed in a gold lame gown with black outlining and a cape off one shoulder but this was clearly as far as she would go. Thailand looked angelic in this caped white gown. Capes were quite popular this year but I wish she hadn’t slicked back her hair similarly to Zuleyka Rivera, Miss Universe 2006 as this hairstyle just looked wrong on Aniporn. I wish she kept her hair more flared like in swimsuit. Australia had a long-sleeved gold gown and recovered nicely from a little stumble which reminded me of one of the judges, Olivia Culpo who also had a similar stumble when competing for her title of Miss Universe 2012. Culpo’s roommate that year was also the Australian delegate so Culpo likely gave high scores to this year’s Australian delegate. Dominican Republic continued her fun, flirty, feminine presentation in a glistening fuller white gown and I liked when she tossed the skirt in the air to flare it out. This girl knows a thing or two about stage presentation. France followed in a simple red gown with a thigh-high slit that wasn’t too distracting but you could really see her and I liked how her lipstick matched the gown. Curaçao followed in a red, long-sleeved gown and her hair in a bun which was a slight improvement from the 60s beehive she sported during the preliminaries. If I didn’t get her before, her gown styling certainly did nothing to change that. Philippines followed wearing a royal blue gown that matched the blue jewels in the crown so it was the choice of a winner! The zigzag designs on the back were interesting but Pia carried off a successful, sultry yet sweet presentation. Finally, Venezuela sported a white, long-sleeved, ornate gown and her styling was also impeccable. I knew the preliminaries 80s-inspired look was just a ruse and she would look perfect for finals. This is Venezuela after all and Mariana could easily have made top 5 but I guess the judges wanted equal representation of all continents in the top 5.

The top 5The top 5 consisted of delegates from different continents and a lot of people appreciated this. We had USA (North America), Colombia (South America), Philippines (Asia), Australia and France could technically represent both Europe and Africa since her mother is from Benin and Philippines is also half-German so we had a good mix of representation in the top 5. Instead of a round of judge’s questions, Steve Harvey asked each delegate a question that was relevant to their countries. Philippines was up first and she was asked, “Earlier this year, there was a controversy in the Philippines about the United States reopening a military base in your country. Do you think the United States should have a military presence in your country?” Philippines responded, “I think that the United States and the Philippines have… has always had a good relationship which each other. We were colonized by the Americans and we are, we have their culture in our traditions even up to this day and I think that we are very welcoming with the Americans and I don’t see any problem with that at all.” It was a well-delivered, pro-American answer which is good given that this is an American owned pageant and all. France was next and she was asked, “Having experienced terrorism firsthand yourself, what is the best way for governments to combat this rising threat?” France said, “Good evening, Las Vegas. (through translator) Hello, World. In my opinion, to fight terrorism, first, we have to know where the problems are coming from. We have to listen to the people who are committing these attacks. So we have to find the problem at its heart and for us French, we have to learn to be happy, to live and to be among ourselves. Merci beaucoup.” I think the translation weakened this answer a tad but and I don’t think she meant to say we need to listen to the people committing these attacks, rather she probably meant we need to educate them. Interestingly enough, even though France has had many semifinalists over the years, this is the first time since their only win in 1953 that France made the top 5 so kudos to Flora on this achievement. Australia was next and was asked. “Australia is taking its first steps towards legalizing marijuana. Do you think that’s a good idea and why?” Australia answered, “Thank you for that question, Steve. (giggles) Now this topic has both positives and negatives and it’s quite debated. I believe that in certain circumstances, legalizing marijuana does have definite benefits. It has been found to be really amazing in treating cancer and has really, really helped those very, very sick so in that circumstance, I definitely do think, yes, we should but the government should definitely weigh both options. Thank you very much.” Australia handled this question quite well. Colombia was asked, “Drug abuse continues to be one of the world’s most serious social problems. What do you think is the best way to handle this issue?” Colombia answered, “(through translator) Good evening, everybody. The ideas that I have that we could use to eradicate these problems that unfortunately are affecting our world is in our homes to incentivize education for these problems because they continue to be large problems for the world. Thank you.” It was a well expressed answer again weakened by the translation but Ariadna is very well-spoken and was remarkably well prepared for this competition. Finally, USA was asked, “Few issues in the United States are more polarizing than gun ownership. The argument really heats up after major tragic events such as San Bernardino and Sandy Hook. What’s your position on gun control?” USA answered, “This is an incredibly difficult issue and the United States is constantly battling and weighing our options. I think that it’s incredibly, incredibly important that all individuals have the right to protect themselves and feel safe (audience applauds) but I also think that sometimes, we need to look at the safety of a whole more than our own personal safety so, so I think we need stronger regulations specifically I think that we need to pay attention… (bell chimes) to pay attention! (laughs)” USA gave a decent response. The ending sort of took away from it but it was still strong.

The top 3 So for the first time since the year 2000, we had a cut from the top 5 to the top 3 to answer the final question. It was from 1990 to 2000 that there was a cut to the top 3 and there was a lot of speculation that the cut to top 3 was eliminated because of Missouri’s Larissa Meek’s unfortunate flub at Miss USA 2001 during her judge’s question causing her to be eliminated even after winning the evening gown and swimsuit competitions and from Miss Universe 2001 onwards, all of the top 5 answered the final question so this was probably Donald Trump’s doing and since he is no longer involved, we reverted back to a cut to the top 3. Those 3 didn’t know what they were in for but they were USA, Colombia and Philippines. We also learned that the remaining delegates would be grouped as the 6th judge to cast a vote for which of the top 3 should be Miss Universe in addition to the 4 judges and the online vote. The final question was simple enough, “Why should you be the next Miss Universe?” which was similar to the final question asked at Miss USA 1990. USA’s response was, “I think that I should be the mext… The mext… The next Miss Universe because I am so passionate and so driven. It is my goal to inspire people from around the world to believe in themselves, to be themselves and to follow their wildest dreams, no matter what those dreams are. I want to work to bring equality towards men and women. It is time to step up into power, women and I want to empower women all over the world!” I’m sure Olivia was a ball of nerves and she stumbled a bit through this answer and made it more about empowering women so a 2nd runner up placement was justified but my attitude while viewing the pageant was they were just going to give it to USA this year but it turns out that wasn’t the case. Seal and Pia Wurtzbach-Miss Universe 2015 Colombia was next and through her translator answered, “I am positive that I should be the third Miss Universe from my country, Colombia because I have all of the attributes that a Latin woman has. I am a woman who is full of feeling and have the attributes that a woman should have in Colombia and a Miss Universe should have for all of her events.” I know this answer would have been stronger had there not been any interpreter interruptions which again weakened the answer and I got the impression that it wasn’t quite accurately interpreted. Finally, Philippines answered, “To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and a responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I would raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country which is the Philippines. I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart. Thank you.” Pia gave a brilliant response that I’m sure she had prepared prior to this pageant but she delivered it excellently. The best part about this answer was that it demonstrated that she understood what the job of Miss Universe actually entailed particularly when she mentioned HIV awareness which is one the causes that Miss Universe works with throughout her year and she even incorporated the “Confidently Beautiful” slogan into her answer and it was rewarded. Pia remained poised and focused while giving this answer. One of the judges, Perez Hilton after the whole crowning debacle said that Philippines was the unanimous choice of the judges and he was surprised when the erroneous crowning of Colombia occurred and he implied that Colombia came across as too overconfident. I think a lot of people appreciated Pia’s humility as well and that genuinely shocked look on her face when Steve Harvey announced the correction to who was the actual winner and Pia’s humble nature seemed to have propelled her to the win.

For the final look, the top 3 were serenaded by Seal to three of his songs, “Every Time I’m With You” for USA, “Kiss From a Rose” for Colombia which was a perfect song to be included in Miss Universe and “Crazy” which is a song I love and was an appropriate choice for Philippines since her fans are “crazy” about pageants and their new queen! After a delicious crowning moments montage, USA was announced as 2nd runner up and Olivia gave a visibly disappointed reaction to being named 2nd runner up. Then, we all know what happened next. An erroneous crowning of Miss Colombia as Miss Universe until Steve Harvey corrected the mistake and Philippines was announced as the winner of Miss Universe 2015. I wasn’t sure about Steve Harvey as host when I first heard about it and thought this would have a similar outcome from to Deion Sanders hosting Miss USA 2002 but apart from his epic blunder at the end, Steve did a decent job throughout the pageant and he is rumored to have signed a multi-year deal to host Miss Universe and reportedly is the highest paid host in the pageant’s history so in spite of what happened, he probably is still hosting next year which many people suspect could turn into ratings gold. There was a rumor floating around that Miss Universe 2016 might be held in Belize but a tweet actually was a forgiveness invitation for Steve Harvey to host a Miss Costa Maya pageant in that country so Belize is out. Belize hasn’t participated in Miss Universe since 2007 either. Of course, we have seen other countries bail before so there is no confirmed host country for next year's pageant. The Philippines might want to have Pia give up her crown there so maybe the pageant that didn’t happen in 2014 to continue the 20 year chain. (Philippines hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1974 and 1994 and I was hoping it would continue in 2014 but that literally didn’t happen but 2016 looks like it would be more promising for Philippines to host after Pia’s win.)

Here’s to Pia and Philippines’ long awaited Miss Universe win after 42 years since Margarita Moran won in 1973 and Gloria Diaz won in 1969 both of whom are considered national heroes in their country and Pia is bound to receive a hero’s welcome when she returns to the Philippines and gave them one fabulous Christmas gift!

 THE PRETHOUGHTS - Miss Universe 2015



Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP