Final Miss Universe Preview: Betting Favorites, Plus Miss USA

The finale of the Miss Universe pageant is tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. It will be televised on Fox. This year’s competition has generated relatively few headlines. There have been no scandals, no recent terrorist threats, and with one exception noted below, it has been hard to find a political angle.

Eighty-six contestants are competing for the Miss Universe crown; you can learn about them on the Miss Universe site. But you can’t learn much. The official site is astonishingly bad–impossible to navigate, with hardly any photos and very little information about the contestants. It was better when Donald Trump ran Miss Universe, but that is damning with faint praise.

The betting odds have solidified, and the favorites are more or less consistent from one gambling house to another. The odds-on favorite is Miss Colombia, Andrea Tovar:


Currently second, according to this site, is Miss Peru, Valeria Piazza:


Continuing the Latin theme, Miss Brazil, Raissa Santana, currently ranks third. Miss Santana has gotten quite a bit of publicity as the first black Miss Brazil in 30 years:

Raissa Santana

Miss Belgium, Stephanie Geldhof, is tied for third among the favorites. In recent years, Belgium has unexpectedly become a beauty pageant hot spot:

Stephanie Geldhof

Next comes Miss Bolivia, tied with Miss Mexico for fifth. Miss Bolivia, Antonella Moscatelli, grew up poor and was educated in a convent. She continues an interesting trend this year–the leading contenders are not particularly tall, generally 5′ 8″:


Kristal Silva is Miss Mexico:


Next comes Miss Nicaragua, Marina Jacoby:


The next four betting contestants are tied. Miss Costa Rica is Carolina Duran, an English teacher and professional swimmer:


Brenda Jimenez is Miss Puerto Rico. She is studying biology and psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, and wants to become a neonatal pediatrician:

Brenda jimenez

Now we come to one of those weird mysteries in which beauty pageants abound. Miss Montenegro is tied with Costa Rica and Puerto Rico at the linked betting site. And news accounts indicate that a young lady named Adela Zoranic was crowned Miss Montenegro and was to be that country’s entrant in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. Here she is:


However, the Miss Universe site does not list a Miss Montenegro among the contestants, and she did not appear in the preliminary competition that was held a couple of days ago. I have no idea what happened to her, but the mystery is, how can a contestant who isn’t part of the competition wind up among the top ten betting favorites? Maybe some rich Montenegrans put a lot of money down early.

Finally, tied with the last three is Virginia Argueta, Miss Guatemala. Miss Argueta is studying foreign relations and is “constantly reading books and political articles.” She aspires to become a deputy in Guatemala’s congress. She obviously has political views. If I knew what they are, she might easily become my favorite contestant:


Note that, with Miss Montenegro having disappeared, Miss Belgium is the only contestant to break the Latin American betting monopoly. My guess is that this reflects heavy betting activity by Latin Americans, and the top finishers will turn out to be a more diverse group.

I am not generally a homer when it comes to beauty pageants, but this year I don’t see a more compelling story than that of Deshauna Barber, Miss USA. So why not vote for her?

Miss Barber is the first woman actively serving in the U.S. Army Reserve to represent the United States in the Miss Universe competition:

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 6.24.52 PM

She is a patriot:

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.

Barber put up an “I’m with her” social media post, but apart from that she was silent on the recent election. Although she might identify as a Democrat, she isn’t a hater. Asked about President Trump, she said:

“He wasn’t my choice for president,” confessed Miss USA Deshauna Barber at the Smile Train event on Friday. “But it’s my duty as a soldier to support him, and that’s what I really plan to do. I do hope that he is able to unify the country right now because there’s too much division in my country because of a very intense election period. I want the American people to really give President Trump a chance.”

She told that she is not sure if Trump will make changes in the military. “But I’m sure that if he makes changes in the military, I’m sure they’ll be positive,” she said.

It would be interesting to follow up on that last observation, but in any event, that is more than enough for me. Besides, Miss Barber is a fully deserving Miss Universe contestant:


I voted for her. You should consider voting for her too. After all, what better way to crown a wonderful year for the United States than by anointing Miss USA as Miss Universe?

You can vote for Miss Universe in four different ways:

1) MISS U APP: Download the Miss U app and hit “vote” on the side menu:

2) INTERNET: Visit

3) VODI: Download the Vodi app for iOS or Android and hit the vote button.

4) TWITTER: Tweet using #MissUniverse and contestant specific hashtag. You can retweet, too.

The Miss Universe pageant typically is viewed by something like 700 million people worldwide, several times as many as those who watch the Super Bowl. I won’t see it, however. I am on vacation in Italy, where it will broadcast in the middle of the night. But you should consider tuning in: you never know what is going to happen.