The Miss Universe pageant came to a stunning conclusion tonight as Miss Angola, Leila Lopes, was crowned the winner. We highlighted Miss Angola in our first post on the pageant, with this photo:
The contest was a tough one, as the top 15 were, in my opinion, as good a group as has ever been seen on a pageant stage. There were some surprises in the top ten; most notably, Miss USA, Alyssa Campanella, didn’t make it. I was not surprised, as I didn’t think she was a strong enough competitor at this level, but she was the betting favorite right up to the end. The top ten were Australia, Costa Rica, France, Ukraine, Portugal, Panama, Philippines, Angola, China and Brazil. By Latin standards, I wasn’t especially impressed by Miss Brazil, but the representative of the host country–the pageant was in Sao Paulo–is nearly always among the favorites.
The top five were Ukraine, China, Brazil, Angola and Philippines. Miss Australia’s absence from the top five was notable. To recap, here they are, in that order:
It was, as I said before, a sensational field. Now they were down to the pageant’s most unpredictable moments: the contestants had to answer questions posed by the judges. This is basically the only opportunity we have to learn what they are like, and the question round often plays a huge part in determining the winner. I am pretty sure that was true this year.
Miss Ukraine was asked, if you could trade places with anyone in history, who would it be? Her answer was pretty good: Cleopatra, who was powerful, strong, and worthy of respect. No doubt Miss Ukraine would rather not go the asp route, but the answer was still good.
Miss Philippines was asked whether she would change religions to marry the man she loved. The ultimate softball for a good Filipino Catholic: she replied that the first person she loves is God, and she isn’t going to change, so any man who loves her should love her God. That is one of the things I find refreshing about the big international pageants: most of the third world contestants haven’t yet gotten the politically correct message.
Miss China–who, by the way, is six feet tall–was asked whether nude beaches are appropriate, and her answer suggested that she is a classic 21st century Communist Chinese bureaucrat. She responded that each country has its rules and regulations, and we should respect them. I infer that she would be fine with mowing down the Tiananmen Square protesters. It may have cost her the title.
Miss Brazil was asked what she would do if her country was fighting a war she didn’t believe in. This was the most revealing of all the questions, as it gave her the opportunity to play the liberal: she said that the most important quality is respect, that war doesn’t show respect, and that war is always the result of misunderstanding and a lack of education. Which showed a remarkable degree of ignorance, and, in my opinion, disqualified her from the Miss Universe title. The judges seemed to agree.
Finally, Miss Angola was asked how she would change her appearance if she had the opportunity. She replied that she was satisfied with how God had created her, and she wouldn’t change a thing. The audience heartily agreed.
The rather robotic Miss China was the 4th runner-up; next, Miss Philippines, followed by Miss Brazil. Her ill-informed answer may have cost her a higher finish.
That left Miss Ukraine and Miss Angola, two terrific contestants. Miss Angola won; here are Ukraine and Angola right after the announcement: