Ms. South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters won the title of Ms. Universe followed by Ms. Colombia, Laura Gonzales (1st runner-up) and Ms. Jamaica (2nd runner-up). Ms. Japan won the Best National Costume.Ms. Universe is an international event but, Filipinos are owning it! The Philippines is known to be the most enthusiastic nation when it comes to Ms. Universe. The time Ms. Philippines comes out of the stage and gets the loudest cheers tells it all. Though Ms. Philippines made it only to the top 10, at the end of the day, Filipinos will still be proud and be rooting for their own.
It was a good competition considering the new format of the pageant. The candidates were grouped into 3 regions and the Wildcard. There were 33 contestants from the Americas region, 27 contestants from the Europe region and 32 from Africa and the Asia Pacific region. Four contestants from each region and four from the wildcard group were chosen to join the top 16. It is a record-breaking event with the most joined event by 92 contestants. The first time contestants were Ms. Cambodia, Ms. Laos, and Ms. Nepal.
They took the judgment of the contestants from not only the official judges but to getting votes from viewers through Miss Universe’s official website missuniverse.com and hashtags on tweeter.
Ms. Universe 2017 was held in Axis Theater located at the Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas. Harvey was caught saying how he had his first year in Las Vegas as the host of the event and reminded everyone how things went. It is his third year of hosting it and looks like he is a favorite in spite of what happened.
Judges and Backstage Hosts
The backstage hosts were Ashley Graham (American model), Karson Kressley (TV personality, actor, and designer), Lu Sierra (model, correspondent, actress, and choreographer), and Rachel Platte (American singer and songwriter). Some of their favorites from the first stage show were Colombia, Irish, Spain, Sweden, Zech Republic, Germany, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Guam, Ghana, and South Africa.
The judges were Farouk Shami (Palestinian-American businessman), Ross Matthews (American television personality), Megan Olivi (host of UFC Ultimate Insider), Jay Manuel ( TV Personality, renowned make-up artist, and entrepreneur), Wendy Fitzwilliam ( Miss Trinidad & Tobago Universe 1998), and our very own Pia Wurtzbach (Ms. Universe 2015).
The Entertainment and Highlights
Fergie took the stage and rocked it by performing her single “A Little Work” in the evening gown competition. Rachel Platten rendered her song “Broken Glass” which explains that as women, at some point we think that there’s a limit to how high we can go and that this ceiling is unbreakable. The performances were on point to women issues these days and really inspiring! Baghdad’s story was featured. They are back on the show after 45 years. Ms. Baghdad made some inspiring remarks how she represents all religions from her country.
The Top 16
Some favorites of the backstage hosts were USA, Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia.
The Americas region: Colombia, USA, Brazil, and Canada
Europe region: Spain, Ireland, Croatia, and Great Britain
Africa and Pacific Asia region: Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ghana, South Africa
Wildcard: Philippines, Venezuela, Jamaica, China
Ms. Philippines had the biggest reaction when she was named first to be the wildcard.
Get to Know the Top 10 Contestants
“ As feminine as I am, I decided to pursue a career designed for men and now I am a Mechanical Engineer. I also broke all the stereotypes because there has never been a Miss with such a career. I became Miss Venezuela and now I am here representing Venezuela. There is no need to imitate any men in order to be at their level. We are all created equal. With dedication and hard work, you can accomplish anything in life.”
“The journey to becoming a Scientist actually started at a young age. I just fell in love into Chemistry because of my High School teacher. That led me actually to my career at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We have an ion. We create energy. Being someone who struggled with Math and fell in love with Science and being discouraged to believe that I could never be a Scientist is why I started the program. I do interactive Science experiments and show the children that Science is fun, opens your imagination, and it’s everywhere. And that’s why I encourage young girls to discover their passion for science, and passion for discovery.”
“The ocean has a calming effect on me. Being in the water, you have to surrender yourself to the ocean. When you catch your first wave, you just feel so victorious. Ever since I was a kid, we’ve always lived close to a beach. We’ve always wakeboarding, scuba diving. That’s just something that’s been embedded in me. Recently, I just opened my Coffee shop in the Philippines and I’m so proud. I feel like I’ve grown into a new woman since starting this business. And hopefully, that inspires people to have a goal and work towards that goal.”
“One of the strongest lessons I learned is how powerful women can be when they set their minds to something. There are a number of challenging moments in everybody’s life. One time when I thought I might fail my Engineering degree. It is not a walk in the park and I was balancing that with a full-time job and there were number of times in that program where I wanted to call it quits. The important thing is to look at the end goal and see where you will end up at the end of it.”
- South Africa
“After my crowning, I was hijacked and held at a gunpoint. I held my hands up, get out of the car, gave them my car keys, gave them my phone and try to run away. But the guy pulled me back and pushed me back in the car telling me, get in, you’re going with us. I took a chance and punched him in his throat. I managed to run away. I was able to go to a safe place. As a survivor, I was able to launch Unbreakable. My campaign consisted of getting special fields together to equip women with the necessary skills and knowledge to empower themselves. This was a dramatic experience and really a bad experience. I won’t allow myself to be a victim.”
“When you’re a kid, you don’t really understand how other kids make fun of you. I didn’t like being tall and now, I realize how privileged I am to be this tall because it allowed me to play basketball. I have been working in schools, tell them about my experience with bullying and how I overcame it really, focused and discipline. It’s been wonderful, I follow my dreams. I became who I am today through basketball, through sports. I think we need to focus on what unites us and not on what makes us apart and different.”
“I was born in a very humble Brazilian state that is called Piaua. My family is really really big and it’s a very warm family, very receptive. One of the things I like to do is to motivate people mainly young people and black children to accept themselves and to accept your beauty. No one is the same as anyone and we need to respect that. Because I’m different, you’re different, we are all different.”
“My family is my team. My mom, my dad and granny are those who want me to make my dream come true. When I was a little girl, I was bullied. I was the fat girl of my classroom. I was hurt a lot. But it showed me how to be strong and how to look into people’s soul. If I told the girl I was years ago that this would happen, she wouldn’t believe me. I showed that girl that she could do anything with fashion and with love.”
“A special time, you share everything and that sort of represent the Thai people. We are very caring and sharing. When I finished my master’s degree in Marketing, it was a time in my life I didn’t have anything planned out for me anymore. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know who I was. I think though, being that lost, it made me find myself and made me realize what I wanted to do and that’s why I was here. And I think I can actually make a difference in the sense of a teenage pregnancy. There’s sort of stigma when it comes to teenage pregnant women, so young girls who get pregnant are shunned from society. I want to get them back to studying and pursuing their dreams. “
“I was really excited. You should really see it. The magnitude of our landscape, we are very authentic in whatever things we do and what we bring to the plate. I am in the process of learning sign language. You know, it is really hard for them not to be able to get the same opportunities or they treat them less because they have a disability or they are different. I’m in the process of building a sign language especially to break the barriers of communication between persons of a deaf society and persons of the hearing counterpart.”
The Top 5 Finalists
- South Africa
“I would love to move forward as one nation.”
“I am the best example of that dreams can be fulfilled and that with dedication and much effort we can achieve what we want.”
“Even you’re afraid of something, and even if you think you can’t do it, you just have to try and eventually if you try hard enough, you can do it.”
“In order to evolve and grow, you have to step outside of your comfort zone because every experience is a lesson and a lesson that will teach you something that will impact your future.”
“I feel very appreciative, a special part and should be the main factor of our society. I am working for that and I will get that.”
Feedback from the backstage hosts: They were disappointed that Ms. USA did not make it to the top 5.
The Top 5 Q & A
- South Africa
Q: Women make up the 49% of the global workplace, what do you believe is the most important issue facing women in the workplace today, and why?
A: “In some places women get paid 75% of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours and I do not believe that is right. I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”
Q: Social Media has become a prominent factor in the way we perceive one another. Do you believe social media has had a positive or negative effect on the way we judge beauty?
A: “The social media is what we make of them. We must use social media in a positive way and take away criticisms. Behind every photo, every social media account, there is a good person, a human who can and we all deserve respect.”
Q: What do you think has been the most important social movement of your generation and why?
A: “ I think the most social movement so far is that we’re having an aging population but, so the most important movement in my time is definitely the youth. The youth is the new future. The youth is something we have to invest in because they are the ones who are going to look after the earth we live in.”
Q: Sexual harassment has been at the forefront of recent headlines, why is it important for men and women to work together in tackling this issue?
A: Sexual harassment is a form of abuse and no abuse should be tolerated whether in the workplace or in society. I believe that men and women should come together and be professional. Leave this act alone. And, anything that happens such as sexual harassment should be taken into the law and should be dealt with.
Q: Terrorism is one of the main threats facing our world today. As Miss Universe, you will lead discussions on current issues with communities all over the globe. How would you go about explaining Terrorism to a child?
A: I have never been a victim or a family member of terrorism. I can not really explain how it is to be one of them. But if I had the opportunity to speak to a child, I would tell them that, please, your generation and my generation, we cannot be full of weapons, please, more books, more culture, more friendship, more love.
FINAL QUESTION for the Top 3
Q: What quality in yourself are you most proud of and how will you apply that quality to your time as Ms. Universe?
The most quality that I’m most appreciative of is my drive. My determination. I am the founder of a foundation that speaks awareness for the deaf community. And, this platform is a great platform to just let persons know that these persons need opportunities and need equal opportunities as equals in society. So this Ms. Universe platform will be the platform for me to use this foundation to spread awareness for all the deaf people around.
I am incredibly passionate about everything I do. With compassion, I have discipline. With compassion, I put myself in every situation I work at. I’ve done this as an actress. I’ve done this as Ms. Colombia. I do not doubt that I would do this as Ms. Universe.
- South Africa
As Ms. Universe, you have to be confident in who you are as an individual. And Ms. Universe is a woman that has overcome many fears and by that, she’s able to help other women overcome their fears. She’s a woman that nothing is ever too much to ask for and I think that is exactly who I am.
The Final Winners
2nd Runner-up – Ms. Jamaica, Davina Bennette
1st Runner-up – Ms. Colombia, Laura Gonzales
Ms. Universe – Ms. South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters
Harvey has this perfect line before he announced the winners, “We have been here before. Do not let anything happen. Be afraid, be very afraid.” I guess Harveys hosting is an epic in the history of Ms. Universe.