Fans around the world have been waiting for this epic night. For tonight, a new Miss Universe was crowned!
Steve Harvey was the host of the evening and introduced the first group. The delegates from Africa and Asia were narrowed down to five that would advance to the next round. Those delegates were Thailand, South Africa, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Nigeria.
The second group was from Europe. After watching the delegates get introduced in their costumes from the prelims, the following five were chosen: Albania, France, Iceland, Croatia, and Portugal.
The third and final group was the Americas. The first country to proceed was Puerto Rico and both the media center and the crowd on TV erupted. The second country was Peru with another large outburst of Latin support. The Dominican Republic and Mexico rounded out the third and fourth spots heading to the semifinal. The final spot was awarded to Miss USA.
The final five semifinalists can be from any of the remaining 75 contestants. The countries chosen were The Philippines, Venezuela, India, Brazil, and Colombia.
The 20 delegates that made the semifinals were afforded the chance to speak freely to the crowd for 15 seconds. Indonesia spoke about her charity that supports IDs and birth certificates. Vietnam spoke about gender discrimination while Iceland spoke on her personal experiences with discrimination and overcoming racism.
The delegates that went to the next round were the USA, Colombia, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Peru, Iceland, France, Indonesia, Thailand, and Mexico. Before the commercial break, we found out that Malaysia won the costume competition.
With 10 countries remaining, all signs pointed to the swimsuit competition. After the ladies did their final strut down the runway, nerves were tight as everyone awaited the final results. Miss USA, Iceland, and Mexico looked incredible. Everyone was sharing their guesstimations as to who would advance from this stage. Mexico and Puerto Rico were heavy favorites, but the roar for Miss USA and the underdog support for Miss Iceland made it clear that it was anyone’s crown for the taking.
Following the swimsuit competition, the ladies returned to the stage for the evening gown portion. Mexico, South Africa, and Indonesia wowed on the runway in their gowns, earning raucous applause from fans in the crowd, online, and even the pressroom. After the applause died down, the 10 finalists would be reduced to five. The first country announced was Mexico. Followed by Thailand, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and South Africa. A major blow as the USA and France were heavy favorites (with Iceland as a popular underdog).
Mexico, South Africa, and Puerto Rico were the three finalists. For the final stage, the contestants had to answer the same question but without hearing each other’s answers. For example, as Mexico was answering the question, headphones were placed on South Africa and Puerto Rico. South Africa gave the best answer to roaring applause.
As a new addition in this year’s Miss Universe, they allowed the contestants a closing statement. This opportunity gave South Africa yet another opportunity to flex her intelligence and woo over the crowd at large. In the end, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned Miss Universe 2019 (with Puerto Rico runner-up, followed by Mexico).
“We’re slowly moving into a time where women can find their place in society. So I think that this is absolutely spectacular (all black women winning Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, and now Miss Universe),” said Tunzi in a press conference after being crowned Miss Universe 2019. (Click for photos)
[On being the third woman from South Africa to wear the crown] It makes me proud and says a lot about South African women at home. I think we’re more alike than we are different and I’m bringing a different, fresh perspective as to what South Africa is.
[On winning Miss Universe in a city known for Human and Civil Rights] “I won in the first black-owned studio too, so there’s that. People project ignorance on us because of society. So for me to be crowned with my hair looking the way it does and my skin looking the way it does, I hope it touches every child that ever had to second guess if they were beautiful.”
It was a great win Zozibini Tunzi, South Africa, and representation. Never before has there been a black Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, Miss America, and Miss Universe at the same time. Immediately following her win, when she spoke with us, she was constantly referred to as “queen” “champion” “intelligent” and “proud”. Out of all the questions asked of the newly crowned Miss Universe, 90% of them dealt with representation. There was also a funny exchange when for a moment, she forgot that her victory ensured her a place in the United Nations.
Zozibini Tunzi will make a fine Miss Universe. Her level of humility made her easy to approach and a joy to speak with, topped with her education and interest in learning everything possible. She will surely be a huge motivation to children and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
Photo: Hakim Wright