The Miss World pageant is tomorrow at 5 p.m. GMT–which is slightly unfortunate, as that will be something like 10:00 in the morning, Central Time. It will be televised on the E! network.
Miss World is a frustrating pageant in several respects. I’ve already complained about the pageant web site’s awful photography, but that isn’t the only problem. The site hasn’t been updated adequately, and, while some of the contestant profiles include videos, most do not. One of the pageant’s strengths is the mini-contests it holds during the week prior to the main event–Miss Sport, Miss Beach Beauty, the talent competition, and so on. In past years, the winners of those competitions, who automatically advance to the pageant’s semi-final round, were announced in advance as a way of building up interest. This year, the event’s organizers haven’t gotten beyond narrowing Miss Beach Beauty down to 20 finalists. So there has been less to write about during the days leading up to tomorrow’s finale. On the positive side, of course, we did have the epic debate over the merits of pageantry at Cambridge, in which the contestants acquitted themselves well.
Of course, none of this matters to bettors, nor will it chill the international television audience, estimated at around one billion viewers. We’ll go to Ladbrokes for the final betting odds; not only is Ladbrokes a reputable bookie, it is located, like the pageant this year, in England. Ladbrokes says the favorite, at 6-1, is Miss Venezuela, Ivian Lunasol Sarcos Colmenares, whom we pictured both here and here. You have to go outside the official pageant site for good photos of the contestants; here is one more of Miss Venezuela:
There is a three-way tie for second at 9-1, including Miss Puerto Rico–as you may have noticed, a favorite of mine–Miss Bolivia and Miss Hungary. Here is Miss Puerto Rico, Amanda Victoria Vilanova Perez:
Miss Bolivia is Yohana Paola Vaca Guzman. Some oddsmakers have made her the favorite:
Miss Bolivia seems to have been popular with our readers so far. Rounding out the top four is Miss Hungary, Linda Szunai. In this group of rather exotic favorites, she is something of a girl next door. Here she is during the Miss Hungary competition:
Ladbrokes’ fifth and sixth contenders, Miss Ireland and Miss England, are tied at 12-1. Miss Ireland is Holly Carpenter. I suppose this helps to explain why my Viking ancestors bothered to raid the Irish coast. This photo shows Miss Carpenter when she was Miss University, a way-station on the path to Miss Ireland:
And, finally, Miss England, Alize Mounter–who, by the way, is actually Welsh. Miss Mounter illustrates a peculiarity of the Miss World competition. She is a professional model and competed in the Miss England contest not as, say, Miss Birmingham, but rather as Miss Everymodel. Miss USA, as I understand it, did not win a national competition with representatives from the 50 states, but rather was chosen by Elite Models, the firm by which she is employed. She nevertheless is also among the favorites. Anyway, here is Miss Mounter:
So those are the top six, according to Ladbrokes. If I had to hazard a guess, though, I would take the field. Beauty pageants are notoriously unpredictable.
It would be nice to report that our readers should support a certain contestant on political grounds–she lists Milton Friedman or Ronald Reagan as her hero, or aspires to own an oil company–but, alas, pageant contestants have generally learned to scrub anything controversial, like politics, from their bios. Still, reading between the lines, it is pretty clear that there aren’t a lot of liberals in the group. Pageantry is sort of like boxing in the American cities of the 1930s and 1940s–a way in which ambitious, talented young people without inherited wealth or social connections can achieve fame and fortune. Except in Latin America, where the contestants actually may enjoy a little inherited wealth. But who is going to hold that against them?
Around lunch time tomorrow, depending on your time zone, we should have a winner.