Catriona Gray from the Philippines was awarded the Miss Universe crown for 2018 on Monday, beating contenders from 93 other countries.
The 24-year-old Filipina-Australian beat South African Demi Leigh Nel-Peters for the top spot, becoming the fourth Filipina to bring home the desirable title. Miss Venezuela, Sthefany Gutiérrez, rounded out the top three at the contest in Bangkok.
Thailand’s own Sophida Kanchanarin made it to the top 10, to massive cheers from the home multitude, but did not progress any further.
Miss Universe 2018 is… PHILIPPINES! pic.twitter.com/r2BkN8JpXh
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 17, 2018
Lets Roll Back The Tape (Controversies)
Ahead of Monday’s final, limelight was on Miss Spain, Angela Ponce, the first transgender contender in the competition’s history.
“I’m competing because it’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl,” Ponce disclosed to Time ahead of the competition. “I’m showing that trans women can be whatever they want to be: a teacher, a mother, a doctor, a politician and even Miss Universe.”
Regrettably for Ponce, however, she failed to make the top 20 list.
Miss USA, Sarah Rose Summers, did make it to the final round– but only just, and was removed before voting got down to the last 10.
Last week, Summers ignited an online backlash when she shared a video commenting on the English-language aptitudes of two contestants.
In a live Insta video — condemned as “condescending” and “xenophobic” — the 24-year-old said Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie is “so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she (nods and smiles).”
Later in the clip Summers burst out to express sympathy for Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat, who she said, “doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language.”
“Can you imagine? Francesca (Miss Australia) said that would be so isolating and I said yes and just confusing all the time,” Summers stated. “Poor Cambodia.”
Retorting to the reaction in an IG post, Summers said Miss Universe was “an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other’s cultures, life experiences, and views.”
“In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize,” Summers stated, along with a photo of her embracing her co-contestants.