Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa lived up to her pre-pageant hype and captured the Rainbow Nation’s first Miss Universe title in 39 years. The 22-year-old business graduate edged out 91 other beauties in the 66th edition of the pageant held in AXIS Theatre, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is now her country’s second Miss Universe titleholder after Margaret Gardiner in 1978.
Finishing 1st Runner-Up was Colombia‘s Laura Gonzalez, who clinched her country’s fourth Top 3 placement in a row, while the 2nd Runner-Up was Jamaica‘s Davina Bennett. Rounding up the Top 5 were two other pre-pageant favorites, Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren of Thailand and Keysi Sayago of Venezuela.
The Philippines‘ Rachel Peters sustained the country’s placement streak. The half-British surfer made the Top 10 together with Spain‘s Sofia del Prado, USA‘s Kara McCoullough, Canada‘s Lauren Howe, and Brazil‘s Monalisa Alcantara.
Completing the Top 16 were: Sri Lanka‘s Christina Peiri, Ghana‘s Ruth Quashie, Ireland‘s Caitlin Toibin, Great Britain‘s Anna Burdzy, Croatia‘s Shanaelle Petty, and China‘s Roxette Qiu. This is Ghana’s first placement since 1999 and Sri Lanka’s since 1955, when it was still known as Ceylon.
Japan‘s Momoke Abe won the National Costume Award for her innovative, quick-changing ninja kimono ensemble. No Photogenic and Congeniality winners have been announced as of press time.
This year’s pageant attracted 92 contestants, which is its highest delegation to date. It also marked the return of the Mikimoto crown after 10 years, following the organization’s parting of ways with Diamonds International Corporation (DIC).This is also the first pageant held in Vegas where the Mexican candidate missed the first cut.
Congratulations to Demi-Leigh and to the entire Rainbow Nation!
More on the results in our full review, coming soon!