Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua is Miss Universe 2023!

In a year of many historical firsts, it's the first win for the land of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua! It's also a first win for Central America (even though Panama's Justine Pasek inherited the 2002 Miss Universe crown when Russia's Oxana Fedorova was dethroned). Our new Miss Universe, Sheynnis Palacios also has the same last name as Miss Universe 1986-Venezuela's Barbara Palacios so Vega is now no longer the only last name to be repeated among Miss Universe winners (Dominican Republic's Amelia Vega in 2003 and Colombia's Paulina Vega in 2014). Sheynnis is the 7th former Miss World contestant to win Miss Universe (succeeding Lebanon's Georgina Rizk in 1971, Holland's Angela Visser in 1989, Namibia's Michelle McLean in 1992, Botswana's Mpule Kwelagobe in 1999, Philippines' Catriona Gray in 2018 and Mexico's Andrea Meza in 2020). Sheynnis made the top 40 at Miss World 2021/22 but not the top 13. This is also first time that a new country has won since Angola's Leila Lopes in 2011. Sheynnis was born on May 31, 2000 in Managua, Nicaragua making her the youngest of the reigning Miss Universe winners defeating Miss Universe 2021-India's Harnaaz Sandhu who was also born in 2000 but on March 3. She studied at the Universidad Centroamericana and pursued a degree in mass communication. At the same time, she also played varsity volleyball for the university. She was also the 2016 Miss Teen Nicaragua winner and placed in the top 10 of the Miss Teen Universe 2017 pageant held in her country. That pageant experience really paid off and helped Sheynnis develop a certain style with her warmth and humility combined with her beauty gave her the right measure of appeal that won her the coveted Miss Universe crown.
Khun Anne with Nayib Bukele JrSheynnis2023 marks the first year that the Miss Universe pageant is officially under the new ownership of wealthy Thai trans-woman, Jakkaphong “Anne” Jakratutatip (affectionately known as Khun Anne) born on February 17, 1979. Anne is the Chief Executive Officer of her company, JKN Global Group. Anne is short for Andrew which was Jakkaphong’s English name when living in Australia building her empire starting with finding a niche market to have English nature programs translated to Thai and making them available in the Thai television market. According to Forbes magazine, Khun Anne is the third richest transgendered person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$210 million (6.37 billion baht) in 2020. Anne is also a long-time Miss Universe fan who stepped up to purchase the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million U.S. from the previous owner, IMG. This also technically marks the first time that the Miss Universe pageant will be female-owned although Khun Anne was born male in 1979 and later transitioned to female after fathering a son and a daughter using donated eggs from a German woman. The announcement of JKN ownership was made official on October 25, 2022 and an Extravaganza reunion to celebrate the new ownership was held on November 7, 2022 featuring several former Miss Universe titleholders but this was close to the upcoming date of Miss Universe 2022 actually held earlier this year on January 14, 2023 so 2022 was the 4th leap year after the Miss Universe pageants for 2014, 2016 and 2020 which were all held in the following year. It looks like we are now on track to catching up so there shouldn’t be any more leap years with postdated pageants for a long time but we never know what the future holds! There was some assistance from previous owner, IMG for the 2022/23 Miss Universe pageant but Khun Anne did make an appearance with those now famous words, “Hellooooo, Universe!” succeeded by some very distinctive screams and the world met Khun Anne. In some parts of the world, she has also been dubbed Tia Anne (Aunt Anne) and we started learning more about this character. The Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants were once under the Miss Universe organization umbrella but that changed for 2021 when Miss USA 2008-Texas’ Crystle Stewart’s Miss Brand took ownership of those two pageants only to have some controversy develop involving some allegations that the 2022 delegates felt that they were wasting their time competing when it felt like the cards were stacked in the favor of Texas’ R’Bonney Gabriel who did indeed win Miss USA 2022 but an investigation was conducted which resulted in no wrongdoing found and R’Bonney later silenced her critics when she went on to win Miss Universe 2022 as well. Apart from that, there were also allegations of Crystle’s husband Max acting inappropriately with some of the contestants resulting in him not being involved with the 2022 pageants and this troubled tenure led Crystle to give up directorship and the 2023 Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants were given to Laylah Rose Loiczly who ran the pageants successfully without any major issues. Laylah was able to secure a better channel (the CW) to broadcast Miss USA but the Miss Universe pageant has a three year deal with the Roku channel (a streaming service which seems to differentiate the U.S. and Canada frustratingly) and Telemundo for the Spanish version from 2022 to 2024 but many were hoping that Khun Anne would be able to get Miss Universe back on a major network like the previous ones that aired it like CBS until 2003 when NBC aired it and then FOX aired it as of 2015 to 2019 and 2021 (A smaller channel called fyi aired 2020). I guess we’ll see if a major U.S. network will pick up Miss Universe for 2025. Khun Anne seems set on turning Miss Universe into a brand and new products are being developed like the Miss Universe beverage and a skincare line and spa in addition to branded items like clothes, handbags and cosmetics and some of these items will start making appearances worldwide at various trade shows in 2024 so we shall see if Khun Anne can make the Miss Universe brand successful and if these items will sell. Khun Anne also started demanding winners and not runners-up to be sent to Miss Universe which caused some pageants to create separate pageants to choose delegates for Miss Universe and Miss World and various other international pageants. It has long been the case for one country to hold one large national pageant and choose to send their winner to Miss Universe or Miss World or another pageant like Miss International. But I dubbed her 'Khun Anne the Barbarian' due largely to the dramatic shift in franchises and national directors that occurred this year and has become more of a thing in recent years. There were a lot of loyal pageants and directors that sent their winners to Miss Universe but in 2023, they introduced a bidding process for the franchise holders and some lost their franchise only to be outbid and have the franchise given to someone else and this even led to some problems along the way. Khun Anne with Poppy CapellaKhun Anne with Olivia Quido and Raul Rocha Cantu For example, Indonesia’s Miss Universe representative has long been selected for 30 years through the Puteri Indonesia pageant which has long invited reigning Miss Universe and Miss World titleholders to attend their pageant and that was rewarded in recent years with a string of placements for Indonesia only for this year to have the franchise abruptly taken away and given to one of Khun Anne’s friends, Poppy Capella who is a singer and actress and she was also awarded the franchise for Malaysia but after Indonesia’s Fabienne Nicole Groeneveld was chosen the winner, there were allegations from six contestants of the 2023 Miss Universe Indonesia pageant who filed complaints with police, accusing local organizers of asking them to strip to their underwear for "body checks" for scars or cellulite, in a room with about two dozen people present, including men. Five of the contestants said they were then photographed topless. Poppy denied all knowledge of this. The Miss Universe organization posted on X (formerly Twitter), "In light of what we have learned took place at Miss Universe Indonesia, it has become clear that this franchise has not lived up to our brand standards and ethics.” The organization also said it would be cancelling this year's Miss Universe Malaysia as the Indonesian franchisee, Poppy also held the license for the pageant but it said it would make arrangements for the Indonesia 2023 title holder, Fabienne to compete in the 2023 Miss Universe pageant so while Fabienne is listed as an official delegate, there was word of a Malaysian delegate being selected in a private event by the name of Serena Lee but she appears to not be listed as an official delegate so perhaps Malaysia will not be participating this year as a result of the controversy (this has since changed and Serena has been permitted to compete representing Malaysia) and it appears Kyrgyzstan has dropped out after we saw three different delegates chosen but the most recent winner seemed unprepared sponsorship-wise to go so it’s looking like 85 contestants are expected this year assuming no other dropouts. Many other franchise holders from the previous year also withdrew in protest of the bidding process including the former director of Mauritius, Nevin who has been a friend of mine since I started this website in 1998. One of the most shocking franchise changes was that of Mexico which has been directed by Mexico’s first Miss Universe, Lupita Jones who won the title in 1991 and has been running the Nuestra Belleza Mexico pageant since 1994/95 which later changed to Mexicana Universal in 2018. However, Lupita has voiced her disapproval of transgendered delegates competing to represent Mexico at Miss Universe which obviously doesn’t meet the approval of the new transgendered owner of Miss Universe, Khun Anne so other directors that don’t get with the times and comply with the rules had best watch out. As of 2024, Mexico’s franchise to select their representative for Miss Universe has been awarded to Raul Rocha Cantu with directorship from Miss World Mexico 2010, Cynthia De La Vega. Raul has been assisting Anne with the Miss Universe spa line and has been seen in other countries like Venezuela trying to negotiate potential host countries for future Miss Universe pageants and he was instrumental in negotiating TV Azteca to broadcast Miss Universe in Mexico. A rumor was circulating that Venezuela was supposed to host the 2024 Miss Universe pageant and they even put down a six-million dollar non-refundable deposit only to have Venezuelan government officials bail due to 2024 being an election year in Venezuela supposedly. Earlier this year, Khun Anne teased that the 2024 host country would be a Latin country that has won Miss Universe more than once which led people to speculate that it was either Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico or Colombia but it looks like she couldn’t outright reveal the country because of the uncertainties. It was indeed confirmed during the telecast after much speculation that Mexico is the 2024 Miss Universe host country (to save face and hold Khun Anne’s words true). 2024 will be the fifth time that Mexico hosts Miss Universe succeeding 1978, 1989, 1993 and 2007. The last two were major boo-fests particularly targeting then Miss USAs Kenya Moore and Rachel Smith who became targets of poor sports when the Mexican delegates didn't place as high as they did and the 1993 and 2007 pageants were each under different ownerships (Madison Square Garden for 1993 and Trump/NBC for 2007) that I'm sure remember those pageants well. Let's hope the booing doesn't happen again in 2024. Sheynnis Palacios and Paula ShugartKhun Anne, Sheynnis Palacios and Raul Rocha CantuPaula Shugart opted to leave her position as MUO president to pursue other endeavors like writing a book describing a rich history with the Miss Universe Organization since 2001 succeeding Maureen Reidy so I'm sure Paula has many tales to tell and I'm sure she remembers the boo-fest that 2007 turned into so she is leaving just in time. I actually thought 2024 would be Paula's last pageant before retirement but maybe 2024's venue had something to do with this but actually, she said she wants to work with her husband in his cannabis business as she advocates for its use to prevent various ailments. Paula Shugart was president but she announced that 2023 was her last year at the end of the National Costume Show. Amy Emmerich who was CEO appears to be staying with the Miss Universe Organization but the new CEO appears to be Raul Rocha Cantu who has been assisting Khun Anne with the Miss Universe spa line and securing Mexico as the 2024 venue. Paula got out just in time but she has quite the tale to tell about her 25 years with the Miss Universe Organization taking over as president in 2001 when Maureen Reidy left so Paula will likely be writing a book which I'm sure has many juicy behind-the-scenes details and she revealed during the telecast that she will be working with her husband on his cannabis business as she supports its ability to treat ailments particularly for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. In September, stock in Khun Anne's JKN Global Group, which owns Miss Universe, recently plunged significantly after the content distribution and airtime media buying company announced it could not fully pay 609 million Thai baht worth of debentures due on September 1, the first lot of its seven tranches of debentures worth 3.36 billion Thai baht. This is causing some to think that the company could go bankrupt but it looks like Khun Anne believes they should recover by the end of the year but JKN stock has been going down ever since but many stocks appear to have taken a hit this year. However, JKN stock started going back up on November 17 right after the preliminaries and national costume show were held so it looks like JKN is back on its way up. Also, the ticket prices for those attending the pageant in El Salvador were the most expensive they have ever been. The cheapest seats were $500 U.S. each with the next step up being $1000 U.S. for VIP seats and $2000 platinum seats which had already sold out two weeks before the pageant! I’m sure there were seats reserved for the delegates’ directors and family/friends. We'll see if the Miss Universe brand including an upcoming line of beverages, a skin care line with Olivia Quido and a spa line with Raul Rocha Cantu and other Miss Universe branded products are to come so we shall see if JKN will be able to sustain Miss Universe and prevent another ownership change.

Paula Shugart, Carson Kressley, Khun Anne, Portugal, NetherlandsIris, R'Bonney, Sheynnis, Andrea, CatrionaWith the ownership change came an onslaught of changes and new rules since 2023 marked the first year that women who are married and/or have children were permitted to compete after 1956. At Miss USA 2023, Maine's Juliana Morehouse Locklear (daughter of Lynn Jenkins-Morehouse, Miss North Carolina USA 1994 and 2nd runner up to Miss USA 1994) became the first married contestant to compete for Miss USA under the new rule but going unplaced followed by the 2023 delegates from Guatemala and Colombia for Miss Universe who are both married with children. In the early years, married women did compete at Miss USA and Miss Universe from 1952 to 1956 without incident like Miss India 1952, Indrani Rahman who was married with a daughter but went unplaced at the inaugural 1952 Miss Universe pageant. This rule changed for 1957 immediately affecting Miss USA 1957, Maryland's Leona Gage who won but was dethroned after competing in the 1957 Miss Universe preliminaries when it was discovered that Leona Gage was a married mother of two boys who lied about her age saying she was 21 when she was actually 18. Underaged contestants have been disqualified like Virginia's June Whitehead who was 1st runner up at Miss USA 1954 then disqualified when it was discovered that she was actually 16, yet three Miss Universe winners of the 50s were all 17 when they won (Finland's Armi Kuusela in 1952, France's Christiane Martel in 1953 and Peru's Gladys Zender in 1957). 18 is now the youngest age that a contestant can be when competing for Miss Universe but as of 2024, another change is coming which is the lifting of the age limit (which was 28 years of age) so now any adult woman can compete for her Miss Universe national title. The race is now on to see who will be the new oldest woman to win Miss Universe defeating the current record held by Miss Universe 2022, R’Bonney Gabriel who won her title at the age of 28 years, 9 months and 3 weeks and it was R’Bonney herself who suggested lifting the age limit during the round of judges’ questions at Miss Universe 2022. Mara Martin asked R’Bonney, "Miss Universe recently made an inclusive change allowing mothers and married women to compete this year. What’s another change you’d like to see and why?" R’Bonney answered, "For me, I would like to see an age increase because I am 28 years old and that is the oldest age to compete and I think it’s a beautiful thing. My favorite quote is, “If not now, then when?” because as a woman, I believe age does not define us. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now. The time is now that you can go after what you want." The age limit was only recently upped from 26 to 27 in 2013 and to 28 in 2018 and as of 2024, the age limit is gone so now, I’m wondering if we will see some of those legends that aged out years ago return to compete for their state or national titles. All these changes mean that women who thought the chance to compete eluded them now have that chance so it will be interesting to see who comes back! (I should note here that the 2023 delegates from Bulgaria who is 30 and Latvia who is 29 were permitted to compete this year as Latvia was supposed to compete for 2022 but couldn't due to Covid and Bulgaria's representative was crowned after the age limit change was announced.)

It feels good to have some normalcy after Covid with audiences filling venues once again, right?? The land of the eternal smile, El Salvador stepped right up and was an amazing and gracious host country for the second time after hosting in 1975 and even president Nayib Bukele gave a speech during the pageant but this pageant came together very nicely and there were lots of activities for the ladies to do touristy things before the pageant. Like last year, we had 84 delegates compete but there were supposed to be 85 delegates but China's Jia Qi was crowned late (October 22) not giving her enough time to get a visa to get to El Salvador so she did arrive after preliminary interviews were completed so she will compete for 2024 in Mexico instead.

Sheynnis Palacios and Olivia CulpoSheynnis Palacios and Nadia FerreiraNow, on to the show itself which opened accompanied by Troye Sivan's "Rush" with some clips of the delegates experiencing the touristy aspects of El Salvador doing things like surfing and enjoying El Salvador seeing the sights like volcano sites and ancient ruins then after some light choreography and the magnificent stage accentuated with LED lighting and media effects. The stage building crew had about a week to construct it in time for preliminaries but it all came together very nicely as that stage was amazing and innovative. The ladies all introduced themselves to the audience. This year we had 84 delegates repeating last year but it would have been 85 if China's Jia Qi could get a visa in time. She arrived in El Salvador after preliminary interviews were completed so she was not able to compete and will instead compete for Miss Universe 2024 in Mexico. The ladies looked amazing their Clarisse Designs outfits and the ladies practically had to scream their names and countries for the enthusiastic audience. Then the hosts, Jeannie Mai, Olivia Culpo-Miss Universe 2012, Maria Menounos-Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 1996 were our equivalent of Charlie's Angels for the night. I'm actually glad to see Maria added this year as these ladies have all been successful in the entertainment hosting world and it's great to have people who are genuinely passionate about pageantry hosting because it does make a huge difference. I also love that Olivia mentioned that she was inspired to compete after watching Maria compete for Miss Teen USA finishing in 13th place but memorably boasting during her intro that she was going to be on national TV 'in a bikini, Mom!' Then we saw the color commentators, Catriona Gray-Miss Universe 2018 and Zuri Hall returning this year and they also did a fine job. I liked when Catriona said even though El Salvador is full of volcanoes, she is only comfortable with lava in the form of a walk! We saw a clip of the delegates arriving in El Salvador and then showing some of the Miss Universe branded products they got as gifts like skincare products and a thermos! Then the judges/selection committee were announced. These judges judged both prelims and finals: Halima Aden (born in Kenya but of Somalian descent and Halima competed for Miss Minnesota USA 2017 being the first to wear a burkini in a Miss USA state competition and she was also a judge at Miss USA 2017), Giselle Blondet (Puerto Rican TV host born in New York), Dr. Connie Mariano (Filipina-American physician), Sweta Patel (Indian-American Vice President of Growth Marketing & Merchandising at Roku), Denise White (Miss Oregon USA 1994, unplaced at Miss USA 1994 but winner of Congeniality award and CEO of EAG Sports Management), Iris Mittenaere (Miss Universe 2016 from France) and Janelle Commissiong (Miss Universe 1977 from Trinidad & Tobago and the first black Miss Universe) [Sidenote: A lot of people wanted Miss Universe 1975-Finland's Anne Marie Pohtamo to be a judge this year since she won her crown in El Salvador but Anne posted on instagram that she didn't get an invite but would have loved to. Of course, they can't invite everyone but Janelle was there instead from that era so maybe Anne can judge another year and her last appearance at Miss Universe was the 2001 50th anniversary edition in Puerto Rico.]
The following judges judged finals only and not preliminaries: Carson Kressley (who has color commentated and judged past Miss Universe pageants), Mario Bautista (a Mexican singer), Avani Gregg (American social media star of Indian, Mongolian and African-American descent) and Nadia Ferreira (looking stunning and Nadia was 1st runner up to Miss Universe 2021 representing Paraguay and recently married and had a son with Marc Anthony who notably was previously married to Miss Universe 1993-Puerto Rico's Dayanara Torres with whom he also has two sons and superstar Jennifer Lopez with whom he has a son and daughter.)

Some special awards were also handed out which included Miss Congeniality won by Spain's Athenea Perez who was most deserving considering the hardship she had to endure being the first Miss Spain of color. The Spirit of Carnival Award, the online vote to get into the top 20, the online vote for best national costume and one of the Voice for Change gold awards were all won by Philippines' Michelle Marquez Dee. The other two gold winners of the Voice for Change competition were: Angola and Puerto Rico and the remaining 7 silver finalists were: Brazil, Chile, Lebanon, Singapore, South Africa, Ukraine and Zimbabwe. The winner of the online vote was not announced during the telecast but it was later revealed in the media. It's interesting to note that Europe only had two delegates place (Portugal and Spain) and these were the same European countries that placed last year!!! How did I do with my predictions? Well, I picked 13 of the top 20 plus 2 alternates (Peru and Namibia) and 1 honorable mention (Cameroon). 4 of the semifinalists missed my list and they were: Nepal (who was in my next tier) as well as Chile, Jamaica and Portugal. Chile and Jamaica were literally my next two delegates below my next tier as I knew Jamaica is a doctor who received flack for accidentally saying 'she puts herself before others' during her national pageant then corrected herself. Chile and Portugal were suspected by others so there weren't really any jaw-dropping surprises this year as it could have gone many ways. Interviews were held before the preliminary swimsuit and gown competitions so usually this leads to more surprises than expected and interview was rumored to count for 50% of the preliminary interview score whereas swimsuit and gown each counted for 25% of the preliminary score. Commendations are in order for Cameroon and Pakistan earning their first placements ever and with Pakistan's debut delegate too! The 7 ladies in my list that didn't place were: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Curaçao, France, Zimbabwe, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago. Sheynnis and Mexico's directorsSheynnis and Mexico's directorsWhat happened to my ladies that didn't place? Let's start with Mexico which is next year's host country but there were forces working against her even though Melissa made top 4 at the famous Miss Earth 2018 pageant and she was the last Mexican to be crowned under the directorship of former Miss Universe 1991 and Mexico's first Miss Universe, Lupita Jones but the franchise has been given to a new director, Cynthia de la Vega who was originally dethroned as Miss World Mexico for 2011 under Lupita's tenure so a lot of hmmmm's here as Lupita has also been vocal about not accepting trans delegates when the owner of Miss Universe, Khun Anne is trans. Lupita was even seen leaving the venue when Mexico didn't place. Shortly after the pageant, the delegates from USA, Colombia, Lebanon, Venezuela, Thailand, Germany, and Philippines were flown to Mexico where the official handover of the Miss Universe Mexico franchise was given to owner Raul Rocha Cantu and directed by Cynthia de la Vega and Khun Anne was also present as they have created a Miss Universe building in Mexico to promote the Miss Universe skincare and spa line. This has been prompting messages online from the ousted Lupita Jones warning people of sketchy big-business types mentioning that Khun Anne's company JKN filed for bankruptcy recently and Lupita has been filmed crying with Mexican media members that know her well and are trying to comfort her. Lupita has been directing the Mexican franchise since 1994 originally under the title of Nuestra Belleza Mexico when her first queen, Luz Maria Zetina was selected finishing in 28th place at Miss Universe 1995 and the title would change to Mexicana Universal in 2018 and Mexico's other two Miss Universes, Ximena Navarrete (2010) and Andrea Meza (2020) were selected during Lupita's tenure. As for this year's Mexican delegate, Melissa Flores said she had an ankle injury but she pushed through in preliminaries performing very well. Sheynnis and Melissa were even roommates during the pageant. I've seen clips of Melissa speak during pre-pageant appearances on Telemundo even with Sheynnis Palacios and I must admit I thought she completely outshined her hence my ranking Melissa 4th in my list to match her 4th place placement at Miss Earth 2018 so a lot of past pageant history of these girls influenced many of my rankings in my final predictions list. Despite that Melissa was amazing in preliminaries even wearing Mexico's lucky red color for her gown, this was like a slap in the face for Lupita by denying Melissa a placement with her last queen and it looks like Melissa got caught in the crossfire and that Mexico is hosting next year didn't seem to help. Osmel Sousa and Sheynnis Palacios Next was Dominican Republic who dropped a bit on my list mainly because she didn't seem to take all the correct pose points during the preliminaries and a positive quality for a potential Miss Universe to possess is the ability to take direction. Mariana was highly publicized leading up to the pageant where even the czar of beauty, Osmel Sousa was present at her crowning but Mariana is a model with the reputable Wilhelmina agency and she notably previously dated Marc Anthony who is currently married to Paraguay's Nadia Ferreira who was a finals judge and even though Nadia had nothing to do with Mariana's exclusion, there were clearly forces working against her. Next was Curaçao who was among the tallest contestants this year and was extremely fit being a sports advocate but it looks like they went with Australia as the sports girl to place just like we had one of the trans delegates and one of the burkini delegates, etc. Kim was very fit but I did have an inkling that she might go the route of Jictzad Vina (Venezuela's unplaced 2006 delegate) and be deemed too muscular and indeed, that appeared to be what happened but loved how classy and eloquent Kim looked in her Voice for Change video and was also hoping she would sport her more voluminous curly hair rather than the flat, straightened hair so all these things seem to have caused Kim to drop off lists. France's Diane Leyre started dropping off lists too after preliminaries despite her spunky personality but her gown felt too 80s and she wore the granny-panty bikini. I thought she would be helped with Iris Mittenaere being a judge but it was not to be. Zimbabwe was a fascinating visible minority delegate who is Caucasian but is representing a country with a 99% black population yet Brooke was born in Harare and she really impressed me with her speaking skills in her Voice for Change video discussing financial literacy but I'll admit I wanted to see a better gown but still I thought interview would save her. We have even seen white Africans win Miss Universe before like South Africa's Margaret Gardiner in 1978, Namibia's Michelle McLean in 1992 and South Africa's Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2017. With Panama, I went Natasha at the last minute as a swap for Great Britain who became an alternate for me after I saw her child-pageanty gown in preliminaries. I was debating between Panama and Peru and of course, I make the wrong choice and put Panama instead of Peru who made top 10. I hate it when I'm so close and I make the wrong move! Oh well, this is far from the first time! Panama was more of a complete well-rounded delegate that spoke well like a journalist but I was concerned about her English (not that that seems to matter any more with our winner answering in Spanish) and Panama reminded me a lot of Miss Universe 1986-Venezuela's Barbara Palacios Teyde who won her crown in Panama interestingly enough but Natasha must have fallen out of favor due to the Latinabot syndrome which is where a pageant contestant almost looks too perfect that she seems more robotic or mechanical and not real like a lot of the Latina contestants we see competing so that must have been it. Finally, I thought Trinidad & Tobago would place since Janelle Commissiong was a judge but it didn't help her which was also the case with France as Iris being a judge so but it seems to help at some pageants and not at others so you really never can tell.
Also, did you notice that I had Nicaragua 10th in my list just like the winners of 2022, 2019 and 2017?? I think I have a new lucky spot!
I will say that it was interesting to see anomaly delegates actually place this time rather than getting the special segment treatment as we have seen many times before! One of the mothers (Colombia rather than Guatemala) placed as did one of the trans delegates (Portugal rather than Netherlands) and one of the burkini wearing contestants (Pakistan rather than Bahrain) placed and we also had the body positivity candidate (Nepal) place and even one of the visible minority delegates (Spain rather than Zimbabwe or Ireland) placed and even Philippines came out in May as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and there was much South Asian representation with the delegates from India, Pakistan, Nepal, South Africa and even Thailand who was born in India which this year surpassed China as the most populated country in the world. Representation matters and there was someone for everyone in this diverse top 20 so there were a lot of historical firsts in this pageant so the Miss Universe is headed to an interesting future with the age limit being lifted for 2024 so we shall see if we can find a new record for the oldest Miss Universe contestant!!



Winner=Nicaragua-Sheynnis Palacios

Winner=Thailand-Anntonia Porsild*

1st Runner Up=Thailand-Anntonia Porsild

1st Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Karla Guilfu*

2nd Runner Up=Australia-Moraya Wilson

2nd Runner Up=South Africa-Bryoni Govender*

FINALISTS (alpha'l):


Colombia-Camila Avella

Mexico-Melissa Flores

Puerto Rico-Karla Guilfu

Venezuela-Diana Silva*



El Salvador-Isabella Garcia-Manzo

Dominican Republic-Mariana Downing

Peru-Camila Escribens

Australia-Moraya Wilson*

Philippines-Michelle Marquez Dee §

Curaçao-Kim Rossen

Spain-Athenea Perez

Colombia-Camila Avella*

Venezuela-Diana Silva

Nicaragua-Sheynnis Palacios*



Cameroon-Issie Princesse

India-Shweta Sharda*

Chile-Celeste Viel

Philippines-Michelle Marquez Dee*

India-Shweta Sharda

USA-Noelia Voigt*

Jamaica-Jordanne Levy

Spain-Athenea Perez*

Namibia-Jameela Uiras

France-Diane Leyre

Nepal-Jane Dipika Garrett

Zimbabwe-Brooke Bruk-Jackson

Pakistan-Erica Robin

Panama-Natasha Vargas

Portugal-Marina Machete

Pakistan-Erica Robin*

South Africa-Bryoni Govender

El Salvador-Isabella Garcia-Manzo*

USA-Noelia Voigt

Trinidad & Tobago-Faith Gillezeau


ALTERNATES: Great Britain, Peru*, Argentina, Ireland, Namibia*


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Italy, Cameroon*, Brazil, Ecuador, Germany

§ = won online vote

* = made actual top 20

Top 20The top 20 were announced in 3 sets of 7, 7 and 6 and as each were announced, there was a quick video package showing each delegate speaking so this was a great way to quickly learn about each delegate. Another cool thing was when the flags of each country would show on the LED screens on the floor and sides of the stage as each delegate was called in. Then it was on to the swimsuit competition set to the song 'Mi Gente' by J. Balvin and Willy William. Nicaragua was up first and owned that runway. She chose one of the better looking swimsuits with a normal panty bottom but I could do without the scrunched flowers but those flowers also seemed to make her implants look less large and she has a great body with on-point snap turns and she just exudes warmth and friendliness. Going up first didn't hurt her either! Other winners that were called first in the semifinals include: Argentina's Norma Nolan (1962) Canada's Karen Baldwin (1982), New Zealand's Lorraine Downes (1983), India's Sushmita Sen (1994), Puerto Rico's Zuleyka Rivera (2006), Venezuela's Dayana Mendoza (2008) and Colombia's Paulina Vega (2014). Sheynnis' video package showed her speaking in Spanish with subtitles about mental anxiety episodes that she experienced as a teenager and how she would hurt her arms or pull out her hair and she sought help from a specialist and works to prevent others from harming themselves in such self-inflicted attacks and she has a Communications degree and is interested in audiovisual production. Spain's Athenea Perez follows and she is the first black woman to represent Spain having a Spanish father and a mother from Equatorial Guinea. Athenea faced both positive and negative messages on social media regarding her win reminiscent of 1997 when Italy's delegate, Denny Mendez also received much criticism for being the first black Miss Italy but Denny parlayed that into a 5th place finish at Miss Universe 1997 and I was happy to see Athenea Perez get a top 10 spot too. Athenea has great moves, body and hair and possessed the sass that a lot of the Europeans don't seem to display in recent years so I appreciated her inclusion and her message that diversity is the future and bravo to Spain for placing two years in a row so we'll see if they can keep it going. I should note here that Spain's only Miss Universe, Amparo Munoz (1974) was dethroned after allegedly punching her chaperone was not replaced as her runner-up, Wales' Helen Morgan went on to win Miss World only to step down as well when it was learned that she was a mother of a young son so Amparo should have crowned her successor in 1975 in El Salvador so a win for Spain for El Salvador this time around would have been a full-circle moment but at least Athenea got the recognition so I'm satisfied. Puerto Rico was up next and she continues Puerto Rico's impressive streak in the top 10 since 2018 making this 6 years in a row and they have 5 winners already but it looks like another win may be in the cards for them soon. I had Karla as 1st runner up in my predictions list of course to match the fact that she was 1st runner up at Miss Supranational 2021! I know one pageant doesn't always match the next but I've pointed out before that sometimes it does! Another Puerto Rican example that comes to mind is when their 1997 rep, Ana Rosa Brito Suarez placed 8th at Miss Universe 1997 and Ana's runner up to the national title, Brenda Liz Lopez would match that 8th place placement at Miss Universe 1999!!! Karla came close though making the top 5 but not top 3 this time around. Karla's video package discussed her work advocating for mental health and telling people that it's ok to not be ok and seek help. Next up was Namibia and I have to say this girl really impressed me in swimsuit preliminaries particularly with her hair styled in the high-ponytail that at one point, I had her in my list but I dropped her to an alternate since I saw her step on her gown a lot during prelims since it had a really open slit that the wind on stage would blow it towards her feet but she held it up and the judges were forgiving and put her in so this was a nice surprise for me because the host country of Miss Universe 1995 and the only African country to ever host Miss Universe has a special place in my heart. For finals, Jameela wore her hair down but she still looked great. Her video package had her discussing growing up in an abusive house and having to sleep in an old car with her headphones on giving her a love of music and she eventually became a DJ! Venezuela was up next and there were a bunch of patterns either supporting a win for Venezuela this year or an exclusion so it only made sense that she would end up somewhere in the middle since she got a top 10 spot! Diana's win of Miss Venezuela which happened even before the last Miss Universe pageant was fraught with controversy since some of the judges claimed they chose runner-up Andrea Romero of La Guaira to win only to be told by one of the heads of the committee that there are other behind-the-scenes judges so one of the judges, Maritza Pineda (who went unplaced at Miss Universe 1975 in El Salvador interestingly enough) voiced her disdain at being invited to judge when her vote meant nothing but Diana's win was deemed legitimate and she did indeed have the body and walk as is expected of Venezuelan candidates. Diana also fainted at Miss Earth 2018 after placing among the top 8 but not the top 4 so this was my reasoning for placing her 5th on my list as her speaking skills particularly in English previously didn't seem to be as strong but she actually does speak English quite well as she did in her video package and her Voice for Change video so Diana clearly prepared well. Supra TrouprasThis was also my reasoning for placing Thailand first and Puerto Rico second in my predictions list reflecting their placements at Miss Supranational since Thailand won Miss Supranational 2019 and Puerto Rico was 1st runner up at Miss Supranational 2021 and that's Abba-solutely why I call them my Supra Troupras! Sometimes my background knowledge can lead me astray when it comes to making predictions.
India followed and Shweta is a dancer who brought her life-of-the-party spunk to the stage with a message to go after your dreams no matter how unconventional and she had that great dancer's body with elegant moves and she continues the world's new most populated country, India's now 5 year streak in semis placing every year since 2019. Next up was Thailand who looked amazing as expected with her phenomenal body and overall look. She was born in India to a Danish father and Thai mother. Anntonia had previously won Miss Supranational 2019 and it is rare for one woman to win two major international crowns but Anntonia came so close! One example of a dual international winner is Miss Universe 2000, India's Lara Dutta who had previously won Miss Intercontinental 1997 but Anntonia is in line with women like Bermuda's Gina Swainson who won Miss World 1979 after placing 1st runner up at Miss Universe 1979 and Wales' Rosemarie Frankland who won Miss World 1961 after placing 1st runner up at Miss Universe 1961 and even Mexico's Andrea Meza was 1st runner up at Miss World 2017 before winning Miss Universe 2020. Anntonia's video package showed her talking about her charity work in rural Thailand and how advocating for women's empowerment should become the norm.
Chile was up next and I had Celeste just below my next tier after preliminaries. I just found her more on the small-bodied side and she sounds more American as she was born in Miami, USA but I guess that doesn't matter as much anymore but I wasn't surprised to see her up there. Celeste is photogenic thanks to the great genes she got from her mother, Miss Chile World 1992, Paula Caballero who went unplaced at Miss World 1992 so I'm sure her mom is really proud to see her daughter place! In the video package, Celeste also said her father handed her mom the flowers when she won the Chilean title and he asked her out 7 years later and the family has adopted children along the way. Coincidentally, they called the next delegate that just fell below my next tier, Jamaica who was among my early picks due to her being a doctor but then I watch her final answer at her national pageant where she misspoke and said that as a doctor, she puts herself before others causing a cringeworthy moment and scoffs from the audience before correcting herself but being muffled by the host overspeaking to tell the audience to give her another chance so her win was also questioned and she also had gown stumbles and looked somewhat unhappy during preliminaries but I wasn't surprised to see her place either. USA was up next and Noelia being half-Venezuelan didn't affect Venezuela like last year when USA was half-Filipina and Philippines didn't place. Noelia looked great as expected but I felt like this was as far as she go due to looking more petite as I pointed during my Thoughts of Miss USA. Nepal was up next and the crowd went wild! Jane certainly made a name for herself boldly competing as this year's main body positivity candidate. She was loudly applauded in preliminaries due to her bravery in competing and this was also the case as I pointed out in my prethoughts that Miss Turks and Caicos 2000, Clintina Gibbs was also applauded in preliminaries despite being more full-figured than the rest of the contestants. Nepal's video package and Voice for Change video also discussed her suicide attempt two years ago but she survived and felt a higher calling to inspire women to feel worthy. Peru was up next and she looked decent maybe a bit on the thinner, small-bodied side like Chile but she did have a great story about having to give up an athletic career and having 3 brain arteriovenous malformations. Up next was Cameroon and this was a pleasant surprise as I really loved Issie's great face, smile and hair but I put her as an honorable mention thinking her gown looked somewhat 80s and body was more on the wider side but that doesn't matter anymore and she pulled through so I should have kept her in my list that was scrambled many times in the lead-up to finalizing it. Issie speaks very intelligently too as spoke about breast cancer awareness in her video package. Issie was clearly emotional about getting her country's first Miss Universe placement. I should have known Cameroon would place when Carson Kressley was a judge as the first winner of Rupaul's Drag Race (on which Carson is a judge), Bebe Zahara Benet was from Cameroon! It's all so clear now! Next, we had Colombia and Camila Avella's placement was justice served as she was denied when she tried to compete for the original Miss Colombia title in 2018 representing Casanare but was disqualified due to already having a manager promoting her because if she was elected, the manager would be in control. We all know that as of 2023, women who are married and/or have children are permitted to compete for Miss Universe and the world's finest coffee land sent us Camila who was one of the mothers/wives (along with Guatemala's delegate) to compete for the Miss Universe crown. At age 28, Camila has a daughter named Amelia which she shares with her husband, Nassif Kamle. Despite being a mother, Camila has an amazing fit body and this opportunity with the new rule change must have been a dream come true for her and she spoke about preventing teen pregnancies in her video package.
Top 20Next up was Pakistan's Erica Robin with her stunning face making history as her country's first delegate and placement (Pakistan is the 5th most populated country in the world) and she is the first burkini-wearing delegate. Some men in Pakistan's government have voiced that they don't approve of Pakistan's participation in Miss Universe. Erica is a minority Christian in a predominantly Muslim country. It would have been nice to see her advance because a lot of people loved her preliminary gown with a long scarf on her head like a hood and a crystal bindhi on her forehead. Her video package was great discussing how she wants to break stereotypes about Pakistani women and wants women to not feel less-than and encourages to participate in exercise, arts and media. Australia followed being our sporty girl and it also shows in her excellent fit and athletic body with an indented waistline and abs to die for. News broke just before the pageant that revealed her property developer parents went bankrupt owing tens of millions of dollars and there were calls for Moraya to step down as she was named as a director of 10 companies owing thousands in tax but she denies all knowledge of these businesses. Her father, Anton Wilson, had some profanity-laced responses to the media and he has been banned by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) from managing corporations until 2027, with his multiple failed companies owing creditors more than $45 million. Meanwhile, his ex-wife Melinda Wilson was in March last year disqualified from managing corporations for five years, with debts of $39 million. I wasn't sure if Moraya would be affected by this controversy but Khun Anne surely would empathize having also lived in Australia and also experiencing bankruptcy and Moraya did extremely well. Her video package and Voice for Change video both showed Moraya discussing the benefits of sports as she coaches young girls and says sports teach one to be disciplined. Philippines was up next and returned her land to the semifinals after the streak was broken last year. Michelle previously competed at Miss World 2019 making the top 12 there and pageantry runs in her family as she is the daughter of Melanie Marquez-Miss International 1979 and her cousin, Winwyn Marquez won Reina Hispanoamericana 2017. Michelle's video package discussed how she supports her country's autism society and wants to create awareness and educate others on mental health and she also supports LGBTQ+ rights as she herself revealed her bisexuality in May 2023 but this topic didn't come up during the pageant itself as was also the case with the Philippines' 2021 delegate. Her red one-piece swimsuit looked great on her and Michelle had a fresh style that was all her own and a very calm demeanor that puts people at ease and even though she won the online vote, it was no surprise to see her place among the top 10. Next up was Portugal's Marina Machete Reis making history as the first transwoman to make the semifinals for Miss Universe. The door to accepting trans delegates started to open in 2012 when Jenna Talackova got the rule change to permit transwomen and she competed for the 2012 Miss Universe Canada title making the top 12 but not the top 5 in a pageant won by fellow Vancouverite, Sahar Biniaz. The first trans delegate to make it to the Miss Universe stage was Spain's Angela Ponce in 2018 who went unplaced like this year's trans delegate from the Netherlands, Rikkie Kollé. I thought the trans delegates would only get the special segment treatment like Angela Ponce did but surprise... a placement! There was also a special segment right before the evening gown competition featuring Paula Shugart discussing Miss Universe being a reflection of society and promoting inclusion and it featured the anomaly delegates (the mothers-Guatemala and Colombia, the curvaceous woman-Nepal and the trans delegates-Netherlands and Portugal as well with the reveal that the age limit is being removed next year.) Marina does have a great body thanks to those famous Portuguese hips! This is a second placement in a row for Portugal which had to wait a very long time until 2011 to get their first Miss Universe placement so could there be a win in the cards for Portugal in the near future? My Portuguese friend Paulo tells me that homophobia and transphobia are still prevalent in his country as it is in many parts of the world. He says he was expecting internet trolls and bigots to infest transphobe comments but was truly disgusted when on national TV station, at the evening news, a famous commentator (who used to be a reputed journalist) made multiple derogatory remarks about Marina, saying that her national victory was the victory of plastic surgery and that she was taking the place of a "real woman", finishing with asking the anchorman "Would you marry her?" (a veiled form of a more lewd remark). The anchorman has since apologized but the commentator didn't. Hopefully, with exposure to all these different walks of life that occurred during this Miss Universe pageant, people will learn that "first and foremost, we're all humans." (a quote from India's Manpreet Brar who was 1st runner up at Miss Universe 1995). Progress, inclusion and acceptance were demonstrated in this historic Miss Universe pageant. Next, we had South Africa and gorgeous Bryoni looked amazing with her long hair and lean body. There were times when I wish she appeared consistently friendlier rather than somewhat stern and modelesque at times but she seemed concerned about how her hair looked or at least that was the impression I got. I still think she should have advanced to top 10 probably over Peru. Bryoni's Voice for Change video was impactful talking about how a woman is murdered in South Africa every 4 hours and we need to fight for gender equality and she certainly demonstrated those incredible speaking skills for which South Africans are well known. Mandela's rainbow nation has crowned delegates of Indian descent before like Kerishnie Naiker in 1998 (Kerishnie was crowned in 1997 as Bryoni mentioned in her video package). In a very competitive pageant with previous contestants, the official 2023 Miss South Africa crown actually went to Natasha Joubert who already represented South Africa for 2020 but going unplaced at Miss Universe 2020. Natasha was originally 2nd runner up at Miss South Africa 2020 but that winner Shudufhadzo Musida was sent to Miss World instead. Since women are not permitted to compete twice for the Miss Universe crown and never have been, Natasha opted to not compete internationally but runner-up Bryoni was sent instead. Finally, El Salvador was rewarded for being such as excellent host as many predicted that the hometown girl made the cut. Isabella was a fine delegate but we know why she placed. I learned in the telecast though that she is related to Guatemala's Jessica Scheel who made top 10 at Miss Universe 2010.

There was a segment where Catriona interview Hilary Cruz-Miss Teen USA 2007 who is currently working as a consulting producer for the event so it was great to see her. After the top 10 were announced, it was on to the gown competition set to John Legend (who also performed at Miss Universe 2010 in Las Vegas) performing "Wonder Woman." After a parade of the other delegates so we could see that many of them had different gowns from preliminaries. Puerto Rico was up first and delicious blue/purple gradient gown with beaded fringe and Karla's amazing body enhanced the beauty of this gown even more and she looked sensational. Thailand followed in a nude illusion gown with conveniently placed crystals and Anntonia looked amazing as expected. Initially, I thought this gown was a little too sexy but Anntonia made it work and was a striking vision. Peru followed in a blue wave-like illusion jewelled gown with a wave-like strap going over one shoulder and a slit in the skirt on the opposite side. It was decent and reminded me of Nicaragua's preliminary gown. Colombia wore the same gown in preliminaries and it was a classic silver sparkle gown similarly designed to that we've seen many times before on Colombian delegates in the past. Hey, if it works, it works! Nicaragua followed in a patriotic white gown with gloves and a tealish-blue cape to reflect the colors of both the Nicaraguan and El Salvadorian flags. How fitting and strategic! It was very intricately designed with all the jewelled pieces like shells and crystals on it. I liked it better when she took off the teal cape though but there was no stopping Sheynnis now. She did everything right and clearly had the support to take her to the top. Next up was Philippines in a very unique and distinctive black cat-like gown with the bust looking like a cat-eye shape and to me, the pointy shoulders were like cat ears but it was actually paying homage to a 106-year-old tattoo artist in the Philippines, Apo Whang-Od/Maria Oggay who was the oldest woman ever to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine in the Philippines. Michelle carried it off gracefully. El Salvador followed in a white criss-cross gown that really widened her. Not a gown one should recommend for a pageant. Venezuela followed in a white champagne beaded gown with nice fringe designs and it was magnificent as is expected of Venezuelans and she didn't wear the furry overcoat like she did in preliminaries which was probably the right move. Australia wore the same gown as in prelims also with a style of gown that we've seen Australians wear before but they know not to mess with what works! It was a flesh-toned gown with green emeralds on it to match Moraya's eyes. Finally, Spain came out in a greenish-gold illusion gown with wave-like designs on it. It did make me think of the gown Australia's Jennifer Hawkins wore when she won Miss Universe 2004 complete with visible underwear... Athenea drew much criticism for wearing a light-colored visible panty under this illusion gown that probably should have been closer to her skintone if worn at all.

Top 5After the top 5 were announced, it was nice to see a small tribute/acknowledgement of the passing of Miss Universe 1970-Marisol Malaret of Puerto Rico (It sounded a bit like Catriona said Malaré) who passed away at age 73 on March 19, 2023 and Bob Barker (the longest serving host of Miss USA and Miss Universe from 1967 to 1987) at age 99 on August 26, 2023. Bob was even the host when Marisol won so these two will forever share a special bond. I paid tribute to both of them in my first round prethoughts for Miss USA 2023 and it was nice to see a small but fitting clip of Bob Barker during the 1975 Miss Universe pageant which was also held in El Salvador. Then the top 5: Australia, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Thailand and Colombia had to answer the judge's questions. Australia picked Iris Mittenaere who asked, "How would you use the Miss Universe platform to promote global gender equality?" Australia replied, "I would use the Miss Universe platform to push a message. I think this community is strong and when we bond together, we can create changes and when it comes to gender equality, when we use our voice, we use our power to make a change, that's when real movement happens. Gracias, El Salvador." I think this was a decent answer. It was more about how at ease Moraya was in her delivery similarly to her country's most recent Miss Universe, Jennifer Hawkins in 2004. Next, Puerto Rico chose Janelle Commissiong, "If you win tonight, what would you bring to the Miss Universe brand?" After the translator read the question in Spanish, Karla answered in English, "I would use that opportunity to show the world the relevance of beauty queens nowadays. I would use my activism on regarding mental health and setting(I think she meant 'telling') the world how it is important that if we...we...we use our voice, if we take up space, if we are courageous enough to be ourselves in this world, I would use the platform to reach and...and be that. Thank you so much." I think the nerves may have got to Karla causing the little stumbles in this answer and she might have felt more comfortable and her answer might have come across better if she answered in Spanish. Nicaragua chose Halima Aden who asked, "What qualities and values guide you as a leader and role model for others?" Through her translator answering in Spanish, Sheynnis replied, "The quality that has inspired me and has inspired millions of women and girls (translator apologizes) the ability and to be able to appreciate all of the little things...because that's where the most valuable thing is - the essence of being human. Thank you." It was a simple and effective answer. The audience cheered so loudly with their airhorns though that it was hard to make this answer out but I'm sure the judges were very clear that this was the crowd favorite. The audience was still so loud that Thailand had to be called up a few times by the hosts and when she finally came forward, Thailand chose Avani Gregg who asked, "If you could speak to a room full of students about online bullying, what would you say?" Anntonia replied, "I would say to not listen to what people have to say because in the end, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but it is up to us on how we react to it. Use our voice to stand up for what is right and be the change that we want to see in the world by leading by example. Don't listen to the hate because it doesn't shape us but what shapes us is how we get back up and how we move forward from that. Thank you." An excellent answer from Anntonia as expected and she was obviously well prepared to answer this question. I have heard Mahatma Gandhi's 'be the change that we want to see in the world' many times in past pageants and it was great to see Anntonia incorporate it in her Miss Universe answer. Finally, Colombia chose Mario Bautista who asked, "If this was your last day on Earth, how would you live it?" (my brain immediately recalls Venezuela's Denyse Floreano being asked a similar question by Irene Saez in 1995). Camila answered in Spanish through her translator, "I am already living it because I'm here breaking stereotypes, being a woman, being a to leave history, a legacy, something that I wanted to extend to women, mothers and children. Thank you." Camila walked off a little too soon but she answered well in her TV host voice and she also had loud crowd support.
Top 3Khun Anne greeted the audience mentioning how amazing it was for Miss Universe to be back in El Salvador after 48 years. Now it was down to the top 3: Thailand, Australia and Nicaragua to answer the final question: "If you could live one year in another woman's shoes, who would you choose and why?" Thailand answered, "I would choose Malala Yousafzai because I know the struggles that she had to deal with in order to get to where she is today. She had to fight for women's education and fight for all women to be able to stand strong and be the change and lead by example. If I could choose anyone that would be her. Thank you." The ending seemed a bit uncertain and she did a no-no by repeating something she said earlier (be the change and lead by example) so maybe it was a bit robot-mode but Malala was a great choice of a strong, empowered woman and the answer was well delivered. Australia answered, "I would live my mother's year in her birth year because she's a very strong woman. She's tough. She taught me how to work hard. She taught me how to be brave, how to be strong and I'm forever grateful for those lessons that she taught me. Gracias." This might be deemed a more sentimental answer given what her parents are going through financially right now. However, saying your mother as the answer to any question is an easy, cop-out answer. I think back to Miss Universe 1988 when USA's Courtney Gibbs was asked who has been an influential woman in her life, Courtney immediately responded "Other than my mother" and went on to say Nancy Reagan. Most trained pageant contestants know that you should demonstrate intelligence and know of a woman in history that has been influential particularly in empowering women so now let's bring on Nicaragua who answered in Spanish through her translator, "I would choose Mary Wollstonecraft (I heard Sheynnis say Woll-cone-straft at first then correct it to Wollstonecraft but then the translator said Won-some-brat. Oy.) because she opened the gap and that gave an opportunity to many women... and what I would do, I would want that gap, that income gap would open up so that women could work... in any area that they choose to work in because there are no limitations for women... That was 1750. Now in 2023, we're making history." The audience support/airhorns was prominent here and this answer was incredible because she picked a woman from the 1700s demonstrating that Sheynnis is a studious and intelligent woman that knows her feminist history. I had no idea who Mary Wollstonecraft was but a simple google search teaches us that Mary lived from 1759 to 1797 and is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers and advocate for women's rights who died shortly after giving birth to Mary Shelley (the author of 'Frankenstein.') Sheynnis had that quiet confidence knowing she had done her homework but never outright gave off the impression that she assumed that she would win. I immediately knew that Australia was 2nd runner up upon hearing these answers but at the time, I was wondering if Thailand would win as I'd predicted and was expecting all along with her experience and exceptional English speaking skills and the owner Khun Anne being Thai or would Nicaragua win giving a thoroughly educated answer but in Spanish and win over the judges with her warm and calm demeanor? We soon learned it would be Nicaragua who would slay the giant that had already won an international crown. This is no longer the IMG era but it seems to be a variation of it. After the final look to John Legend's "All of Me" which was the perfect song choice as this is easily my favorite song of his and I loved when Nicaragua started singing along. After R'Bonney Gabriel did her farewell as Miss Universe 2022 wearing yet another intricately designed Rian Fernandez gown with a red beaded hood. A speech was given by the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele (this is the first time the president of the host country has ever spoken during a Miss Universe telecast) thanking everyone for being a part of El Salvador's rebirth. Then, we saw the video package with Raul Rocha Cantu revealing Mexico as the plan B host of Miss Universe 2024. And the results were revealed with Australia announced as 2nd runner up, Thailand was 1st runner up and Miss Universe 2023 was Nicaragua.

Andrea Meza and Sheynnis PalaciosJanelle Commissiong and Sheynnis PalaciosI really can't fault this pageant because it just turned out so well and it looks like we are getting away from the IMG era which probably overemphasized speaking ability particularly in English but seeing more diversity and representation. The world is back after Covid and we need events like Miss Universe. I'm really hoping they can get a major American network for 2025 since 2024 is already secured with Roku/Telemundo in the U.S. and with all the newsworthiness of this pageant, hopefully that will generate more interest. With the Miss Universe brand expanding under JKN's ownership with a line of beverages and water, a skincare line, a spa line and various other pieces of merchandising, we may be chartering new territory under Khun Anne's ownership so let's see what the future holds for the Miss Universe brand.
Isn't it funny that Nicaragua placed for the first time in 1977 and the winner of that pageant, Janelle Commissiong was a judge this year? Also, Etienne points out to me that both Janelle and now Sheynnis crowned their successors in Mexico! And goes even further saying that an N country won for the first time in 1992 (Namibia) and 2023 (Nicaragua) and both are also crowning successors in Mexico! Quelle coincidence! Another interesting thing Etienne points out is that Rina Messinger-Miss Universe 1976 was a judge for 2021 and Janelle Commissiong-Miss Universe 1977 was a judge for 2023 so will the 70s chain continue with Margaret Gardiner-Miss Universe 1978 (who won her crown in Mexico) judging 2024 in Mexico??? Or maybe Anne Marie Pohtamo-Miss Universe 1975 as discussed earlier? Nicaragua's win was certainly helped by the loud audience support like we have seen before but also I guess a win for Thailand would have looked too suspicious given that the owner is Thai and even studied in Australia and these two countries made the top 3 so two suspicious looking years in a row probably wouldn't have been good for the brand and Sheynnis is worthy. Had it been in another venue outside of Central America, would the results have been different? I guess we'll never know but Sheynnis displayed a lot of qualities that the last woman to win her country's first Miss Universe crown, Angola's Leila Lopes in 2011 so hopefully we'll see some more new countries win. Sheynnis is genuine, approachable, gracious, shows humility, displays warmth and emanates a beauty that starts from within coming from a pure heart and soul and radiates on the outside. These are all qualities that can't really be taught but they can certainly be developed. The general consensus is that most people I've seen are very happy with this win so that's a testament to Sheynnis' character. Here's to a great reign for Sheynnis Palacios, the first Miss Universe from Nicaragua!

 The Prethoughts - Miss Universe 2023

 MMXXIIISS UNIVERSE - Miss Universe 2023 Contestants Gallery