Nearly 100 women from the far reaches of the world descended upon Hollywood (Florida) on Sunday for the 69th Miss Universe pageant.
Mario Lopez, who returned to the intergalactic ceremony for the first time since 2007, and Olivia Culpo, who took home the crown in 2012, served as hosts of the three-hour event, which was broadcast live on FYI and Telemundo.
Like most things, the Miss Universe pageant was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only was the ceremony postponed from late 2020, but 19 countries and territories — Angola, Bangladesh, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Germany, Guam, Kenya, Lithuania, Mongolia, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey and the U.S. Virgin Islands — were forced to withdraw from the competition.
On the bright side, Sunday’s ceremony marked the Miss Universe debut of Cameroon, as well as the returns of Ghana and Russia, neither of which have competed since 2018.
But only one queen could inherit the title from reigning champion Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa, so let’s get to the results: Third place went to Janick Maceta (Peru), while Julia Gama (Brazil) was named this year’s runner-up, leaving Andrea Meza (Mexico) as the new Miss Universe.
Watch her first official walk:
While all of tonight’s finalists were deserving of the crown, Meza’s victory came as a surprise to many viewers who were expecting Maceta (Peru) to win the title. Not only did several commentators predict her to go all the way, but when her third-place finish was announced, there were audible boos from the audience.
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