Miss Universe: A Final Preview [Updated With Results]

The finale of the Miss Universe pageant is tonight, broadcast from Crocus City Hall in Moscow. The show is on NBC at 9:00, 8:00 central. It will be taped–that is around 3:00 a.m. Moscow time–so if you are desperate to find out who won, the news will be out sometime this afternoon.

The biggest controversy surrounding the pageant has related to Russia’s recent laws against “homosexual propaganda” directed at the young. The show’s host, someone named Thomas Roberts, is gay. He has of course taken the opportunity to denounce Russia’s lack of tolerance, and Donald Trump–who owns the Miss Universe pageant–has attended Vladimir Putin to attend.

My only comment on that controversy is that the Miss World pageant was held in Indonesia just a couple of months ago. Indonesia is much less friendly to homosexuals than Russia, but no one seemed to notice. Not only that, the pageant canceled its swimsuit competition out of deference to the anticipated sensitivities of Islamic bombers protesters. For some reason, no Western liberals made a point of Indonesian intolerance.

Politics aside, there hasn’t been a lot of Miss Universe news lately. The list of betting favorites has hardly changed since wagering opened, yet, as always, it is likely that the winner will come from the field. Here are the favorites, in order per this betting site, with photos from the Miss Universe preliminary swimsuit competition. First, Miss Philippines, Ariella Arida. The Miss Universe site tells us:

Ariella can tell the composition of any chemical compound by simply glancing at it.

Not sure I understand that, but if I do, it can’t possibly be true. Nevertheless, here she is, the favorite:

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Currently in second place is Miss Spain, Patricia Yurena Rodriguez. OK, I’m a fan. Miss Spain has had an exciting life:

On Patricia’s first day of school, she was so excited and nervous that she tripped down 20 steps of stairs, knocking into three people on the way down!

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In third place is Miss Poland. Here she is, but I changed my mind about just posting preliminary swimsuit pics, because I like this one better:

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Next are Panama, Puerto Rico and the U.S. in a three-way tie. First, Miss Panama, Carolina Brid. She says she was bullied as a kid. Beauty pageants always keep up on these trends. But then we learn this:

One of Carolina’s classmates who bullied her in school is now her boyfriend.

So he pulled her hair, evidently. I might pull her hair too, except she’s a 5′ 11′ basketball player. Anyway, here she is:

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To be honest, Miss Puerto Rico is not one of my favorites, so let’s skip to Miss USA, Erin Brady. Let’s deviate from the swimsuit prelim theme once again:

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In my opinion, there are numerous excellent Miss Universe candidates who don’t rate highly in the betting odds and probably won’t win the crown, for reasons which remain obscure. So let’s close this final preview with a tribute to three contestants who, if I were among the judges, would rate high. Miss Ecuador:

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Miss South Africa:

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And, one more time, my personal favorite, Miss Hungary:

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When it’s all over, I’m going to see if we can score an interview with Miss Hungary on our podcast.

UPDATE: Maria Gabriela Isler, Miss Venezuela, won the crown, with Miss Spain the first runner-up and Miss Ecuador the second runner up. For a Miss Venezuela to win Miss Universe is like the Yankees winning the World Series, so one could consider it a little ho-hum. Some Miss Venezuelas have been openly hostile to Hugo Chavez (now deceased, of course) and his socialist government, but I haven’t heard anything about Miss Isler in that regard. Here is Miss Isler in the preliminary round:

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Based on this account, all of the finalists played it safe in the question round. Here was the winner:

Venezuela Q: What is your biggest fear and how do you plan to overcome it?

A: We should overcome all our fears and this in turn would make us stronger As soon as we overcome our fears we can face any challenge.

The Associated Press covers Miss Venezuela’s win as a respite from the otherwise bleak situation in that country, where toilet paper is now more or less nonexistent. It’s all a mystery, though, to the AP:

More recently this obsession with beauty has taken a backseat to more mundane concerns, as soaring inflation of 54 percent and worsening shortages of basic goods makes it harder for families to put food on the table.

Driving the crisis has been a collapse in the currency, which has plunged to a tenth of its official value in illegal black market trading. To arrest the fall, Maduro last week ordered the military to inspect prices and shut down businesses found to be charging abusive prices.

Sure, that’ll work! Anyway, congratulations to Miss Venezuela.

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