Beauty pageantry is among the world’s fastest-growing sports–or activities, anyway. The Miss Universe and Miss World pageants are two of the world’s highest-rated telecasts, year after year. It is hard to pin down the numbers, but I am pretty sure that both of those pageants out-draw the Super Bowl. And pageantry is not only increasingly popular in Asia and Africa, it is enjoying a resurgence in Europe. So I’ve never understood why both of the principal international pageants, as businesses, always seem to be operating on a shoestring.
The Miss Universe finale will take place in just nine days, on August 23, and only in the last day or two has the pageant’s site had more than one photo for each contestant. Better late than never, however, and the site is now shaping up well, just as the betting odds are beginning to emerge. In recent years, both the Miss Universe and the Miss World pageant have been hosted in relatively remote locations in China, Vietnam, South Africa, and so on. This year’s Miss Universe is in Las Vegas–Mandalay Bay, to be precise. That will probably help the pageant’s exposure.
Of course, the basics of beauty pageants never change. This video, posted today on the Miss Universe site, shows the swimsuit photo shoot that took place a day or so ago:
If you follow the link above and go to the pageant’s site, you can see photos of all of the contestants. My own assessment is that this year’s field is pretty strong. One of the odd things about beauty pageants is that quite a few people bet on them. You can see the current Miss Universe odds here.
The current betting favorite is Miss Philippines, Venus Raj (seriously). She followed a convoluted path to the pageant. She won the Philippines contest, but then was disqualified because of discrepancies between her account of her own history and official records. The disqualification caused outrage among Filipino pageant fans, and she was quickly reinstated. She is a strong candidate to be sure, but I doubt that she will win; click to enlarge:
Currently, Miss Mexico and Miss Haiti are tied for second among bettors. Mexico is a huge center of pageantry and consistently fields top candidates, but Haiti is a bit of an upset. Here they are, with Miss Mexico on top:
Miss Haiti promises to be a sentimental favorite. There are a number of strong contestants this year, and my guess is that the betting odds will shift considerably over the next week. We will feature additional contestants between now and the 23rd, either because they are rising in the betting odds or because I like them. In the latter category, I will close with Miss Sweden. For a while, Sweden’s culture was negative toward pageants, and there was a year or two when Swedish contestants wouldn’t appear in swimsuits, sort of like Miss Saudi Arabia. But that apparently has changed. This year’s Miss Sweden is an exemplar of the resurgent spirit of pageantry all across Europe:
Stay tuned for more up to the minute commentary over the next nine days.
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