Could This Be Guam’s Year?

The Miss Universe pageant is coming around again; the finale will take place in Manila on January 29. Somewhat weirdly, they are calling it “Miss Universe 2016,” even though it is actually Miss Universe 2017. You may remember last year’s pageant, when the announcer mistakenly announced Miss Dominican Republic as the winner, only to have to retract after the crown had been placed on her head, and award the title to Miss Philippines.

This year’s contest has a number of story lines. Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, is the first woman actively serving in the US Army Reserve to represent the U.S. in the pageant:

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Miss Barber says:

Considering all the events happening nationally and internationally, I feel most inclined to say God Bless America. I feel most inclined to say “I Am A Proud American”. Every Time I put on my uniform I thank God for allowing me another opportunity to represent the greatest nation in the world.

She has a shot, I think.

Puerto Rico is a traditional pageant hotbed. I was in Puerto Rico last March, and noticed that around a third of the billboards in San Juan advertise the services of plastic surgeons, specifically relating to bust enhancement. Maybe there is some connection there, I don’t know. Brenda Jiménez, the runner-up in the Miss Puerto Rico competition, will represent the island in Manila. Why? The winner had a bad attitude:

Miss Puerto Rico 2016 Kristhielee Caride has been dethroned due to reports of her increasingly bad attitude. This also marks the first time in the history of the pageant wherein a contestant for the Miss Universe lineup hailing from Puerto Rico was evicted days before the big event. (Miss Puerto Rico 1994 Brenda Robles was not removed due to the same circumstance; she was pregnant and was in no condition to attend.)

Miss Jimenez may have been the runner-up, but she is a strong contestant:

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It will be a while before the betting odds firm up, and I will feature the favorites in due course. I really prefer, however, to plug contestants who probably won’t win but whom I like for one reason or another. Like Miss Belgium, Stephanie Geldhof. Pageantry is on the upswing in Europe and, contrary to what you might expect, Belgium has become an international power. Miss Geldhof:

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I like Miss Israel, Yam Kaspers Anshel, too. She grew up living on board a boat, which I suppose accounts for the tattoo:

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Colombia is a traditional beauty pageant contender. Most Americans probably don’t realize how big pageantry is in Latin America. This video shows thousands of fans cheering Miss Colombia, Andrea Tovar, as she departs for Manila:

Miss Tovar may be among the favorites:

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Finally, Miss Guam, Muneka Joy Cruz Taisipic. She won’t be one of the favorites. Guam is not a perennial power, and Miss Taisipic raised money to go to Manila with a Go Fund Me page. Plus, at only 5′ 6″ she is short for a pageant contestant. Still:

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More to come, including the favorites once betting has stabilized.

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