Last year, Brook Mahealani Lee, from Pearl City, Hawaii, was the reigning Miss Universe. After looking back on the whole event, many people seem to agree that it may have been worked out in her favor. The first thing I noticed was the judges which were chosen for the event. All four of the male judges were American. The female judges were either from Latin America or Europe. The french judge, Monique Pillard, just happens to be Donald Trump's daughter's agent, so she was very much americanized. I also don't think that she knew what she was doing. Looking at her scores, she gave obscenely low marks, to some ladies who deserved much higher marks. The Venezuelan judge, Carolina Herrera, clearly was showing absolute favoritism for Marena Bencomo, Miss Venezuela. She purposely gave her high scores and everyone else low scores. It also almost seemed a little too convenient for Brook to win the title, after what happened at Miss USA. Brandi Sherwood gave an excellent answer to the final question as did Brook. The similarity of the two excellent answers seem to make me think that Brook was strategically placed in a position so that she could win Miss Universe, so that Brandi Sherwood could be Miss USA.
I was also very disgusted when the judges gave far too low marks to Miss India, Nafisa Joseph, after her flawless interview which clearly reflected her intellect. Miss Sweden (who could be the next Barbra Streisand) was also clearly a far better singer than Brook. I think it is an injustice that she had far lower marks than Brook. I also did some calculations for the judging and I realized that if only the American male judges were voting, Miss USA would have won by a landslide, clearly eliminating the relatively higher scores of Miss Italy, Denny Mendez, and Miss Curacao, Verna Vasquez.

My predictions for Miss Universe 97 were:
Winner=Italy-Denny Mendez
1st Runner Up=Curaçao-Verna Vasquez
2nd Runner Up=Mexico-Rebecca Tamez
India-Nafisa Joseph
Philippines-Abbygale Arenas
Venezuela-Marena Bencomo
USA-Brook Lee
Puerto Rico-Ana Rosa Brito
Colombia-Claudia Vasquez
El Salvador-Carmen Carrillo
As you can see, my order was all off and I only predicted 6 finalists correctly. Ah well, let's add some thoughts.
This parade of nations was perfect, it showed everything and I hope to see more like this one. The hosts were terrible and the break up of Donald and Marla seemed to be the main focus. I definitely would have kept Bob Goen and as a co-host Daisy Fuentes or even have special commentators again.
The first interview competition was okay but George Hamilton was really slow and lacked the same flow that Bob Goen maintained throughout interviews. India was first and SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLACED FIRST, or maybe second after Italy, but Nafisa deserved much higher scores because of her brilliance. I think her one flaw may have been her phoniness. She didn't sound very natural at all and I don't exactly know whether or not this was what cost her the marks. Venezuela hardly said anything and her semi-flamenco dance with all hand and no leg movement took up all her time and cost her interview scores big time but she came through thanks to her body! Puerto Rico handled her questions the best way that she could but I thought the questions she had were too simple and left no room for expansion. Trinidad & Tobago was excellent, "Mi Tiero, Miami!", I wasn't expecting her to pop into the top 10 but it was clear that her intellect reflected her inner beauty. USA was next and won the interview competition somehow based on her imperfect singing and the fact that she was multiracial. I have to admit that she was a lot of fun and that's what earned her the title. I also noticed her making irregular cameos as Miss USA such as on "Wheel of Fortune" with her mom and "The Nanny" flirting with Mr. Sheffield. Has any other Miss USA done this?! I will probably say this over and over but I do think that the pageant was strategically planned and worked out in her favor due to the new ownership of Donald Trump and sudden mass American promotion. Italy was the one who gave excellent answers but you could tell that she was expecting the racism question since she was the first black Miss Italy, nonetheless, she answered very well and I thought she was much better than Brook. Sweden followed with a stupid question about whether or not her family was there and then they asked her to sing! What is up with that?! Her vocal ability exceeded Brook's but her scores were surprisingly low. Curaçao was so cute and looked like she had everyone wrapped around her finger. Her English could have used a little polishing though, for example, "And my company, I've done people that I work for, that I give..uh, uh-huh!" The word she was looking for was "employ" but did you catch the potential sexual connotation...I've done people that I work for?!! She had a clever conceit in saying, "I'm a woman and I'm so young...and I'm the one that pays!" She did very well in this interview in my opinion. Panama definitely, definitely should have been asked much better questions. They asked her only one question for her interview and she gave a pretty basic answer but somehow she managed to pull off 5th place! Were the judges marking interview skills or something else? Estonia followed and based on what I've read, people thought that her attempt to be the next Alicia Machado failed miserably and everyone either thought she was weird or scary. I kind of saw the low interview score coming when I first saw her coming out and that pure blond almost white hair said something! She did dance beautifully though but I thought it was inappropriate for George Hamilton to do that kind of thing!

Moving on to the swimsuit competition, the video showing all the delegates just before was spectacular and exciting. India was first and her major flaws were her lack of bust and her big thighs but she was very trim and photogenic! Venezuela was next and a lot of people can't see this but I thought she looked rather plump! Nonetheless, Venezuela's name is synonymous with success in swimsuit! Puerto Rico was excellent, I don't care how low that score was, she had a perfect form! Trinidad & Tobago obviously has been doing some "butt-squeezes" (that's where her marks came in), but she was together, fit, but she looked kind of short. USA looked okay but I still think she wasn't as great as some girls who placed below her! Italy, legs, legs, and more legs, and more legs, and legs, and lots of legs. Do you think Miss Italy had long legs?! Sweden had a lot of bust but I think she got the lowest score because she didn't really have any muscle. Curaçao was a God-send with a tone body, lots of form, long legs, adequate bust, and muscles galore and this competition definitely belonged to her. Panama looked really built in the ab area so I think she should have worn a two piece and I liked her little cat-scratch at the man who helped her up because it made her looked a little naughtier. Estonia was so hot but she could have ruined everything since she wasn't watching the stairs and walked down the outside corners so she almost fell! Her leg crossing was perfect and gave her a little more edge. My only suggestion for improvement is a little more bust otherwise Estonia had one phenomenal body!

On to the evening gown competition, which saw India making a horrible mistake. Nafisa covered herself up way too much showing absolutely no skin and that purple scarf tied at the back as a jacket/cape did not really match the grey gown. I heard that she had some designer clothes and this gown sent a million questions in my mind, the major one being where were her fashion advisors?! Venezuela looked mouth-wateringly delicious in glistening white silk. That seductive gown shot her through the roof in terms of audience screams and scores! Puerto Rico was also seductive and her white gown showed off her excellent form. I like how she stood with her leg out to make the gown look tighter. Very smart, Ana Rosa Brito! Trinidad & Tobago looked so royal in her gold gown. This was an acceptable jacket unlike Nafisa's and it definitely gave Margot a lot of presence. USA looked unique but I have to say that the gowns that she chose for Universe were just plain strange. The preliminary one was odd too. The see-through centre part actually made her look wider to me and the bust containers were unfortunately not too flattering. Italy looked so incredible and she blended so perfectly with that sunset backdrop. Absolutely stunning! Sweden chose really boring gowns which could have been more effective if they were tighter! Curaçao had a gown that made her frame look even more perfect. The peacock-like extensions for the skirt didn't really look as effective as Miss Puerto Rico 95, Desirée Lowry, but she still pulled off first place! The crowd was whistling left and right for her too! Panama had a hairdo like Minorka Mercado but the gown wasn't as good as her preliminary gown. Didn't Shawnae Jebbia make this same mistake? Estonia's gown looked like a furniture covering, sorry Kristiina! and somebody said "oh, please" when she moved her arms up like a swan as if she was trying to fly or else trying to imitate Verna Vasquez.

The judge's questions this year were given to the wrong ladies. Italy and Curaçao, the two favorites were forced to repeat what they had said earlier or at least refer to it and this is why they missed out on top 3. I think that this is why they got rid of the judge's questions for the following year! I loved Miss Venezuela's answer in responding to what she would do if she found out another delegate received the questions in advance...(Brook?! Okay, we won't go there!)...and she said that she would ask her what the questions were and then share them with everyone else. Perfect answer. Trinidad also got the same question as the final question for 1995! Why are they repeating questions like that so soon?!
Overall, this pageant's format was excellent, probably the best I've seen so far but I'm so mad that everything went topsy-turvy in terms of the results! I really don't mean to attack Brook but I guess the real reason that I don't like her is because she beat out my two favorites for Miss USA, Towanna Stone and Brandi Sherwood. When I made those predictions, Brook was nowhere in the picture and then she came out and won, Universe and all. The same Verna Vasquez tragedy also happened to Angelia Savage who if she had given a slightly better answer would have taken Brook out of the top 3! Oh well, Brook, congrats on a job well done. The Universe is yours!