What is a beauty pageant if it is not surrounded with controversies and scandals, right? After all, not all of us watch these pageants just to appreciate the beauty of the candidates. In fact, some of us are even secretly hoping that someone trips or blows the question and answer portion.
Miss Universe is the biggest beauty pageant on Earth, attracting candidates from over 80 countries each year. The organizers have succeeded in showcasing beauties from around the world in a night filled with dramas and surprises. Although they were generally successful, there were some editions that were filled with controversies, both on stage and backstage. Let us take a look at 20 of the juiciest scandals that have enveloped the Miss Universe pageant.
20. Miss Universe Uruguay 2014 and her racy photos
This is not the first time that we have heard about a candidate whose topless or nude photos surfaced on the Internet. In fact, even before the Internet age, some pageant candidates have fallen victim to this. The only difference about Miss Uruguay 2014 is that despite her racy photos released, she was allowed to compete, both by the national pageant organizers and the Miss Universe organization. It sparked controversies after many other candidates in the past were stripped off the title or were barred from competing due to their naked photos.
19. Miss Universe 2012 preliminary stage was too slippery.
It is common to see pageant candidates trip or fall during the finals night. The preliminary competition of Miss Universe 2012 was unique though in a sense that not only 1, but several candidate tripped or slipped and fell on stage. It started with Miss Guyana who fell flat on her ass on the floor. It could have been the biggest news of the night if not for other candidates who also tripped including Misses Indonesia, Colombia, Peru and Ireland. Later on, it was found out that there was a leak on the roof that has led to this problem.
18. Miss India’s national costume got stuck in customs
During the national costume presentation of Miss Universe 2011, the ladies were asked to wear their costumes during a pre-taped performance. Miss India’s Vasuki Sunkavalii was noticeably missing. As it turned out, her national costume got stuck at customs and was not delivered on time. This made people wonder how her costume was not allowed when there were even bigger costumes like that of Miss Panama that was cleared.
17. Venezuela was frowned upon for their back to back victory.
A back-to-back victory in Miss Universe has never been heard of before. However, when Dayana Mendoza won in 2008 and passed on the crown to her successor, Estefania Fernandez in 2009, history was made. Though it was a momentous event for Venezuela, it became a frowning moment for many other countries. Venezuela is already a pageant powerhouse with one placement after another while other countries missed the cut for decades. Thus, for them to win the crown consecutively was too much for others to bear.
16. A Canadian transgender wanted to join Miss Universe.
In 2012, Jenna Talackova caused a huge scene when she planned to join Miss Universe. The thing is that she has to win her national pageant in Canada first. She has qualified in all criteria except for being a naturally born female. As a transgendered woman, people protested her entry in the competition. This prompted the organizers to disqualify her. She fought for her right to join up until she was eventually permitted to join. She lost the pageant though and failed to gain the right to compete in Miss Universe.
15. Miss Jamaica’s defeat led to boos heard on live TV
It is common to hear people cheer for their favorites in Miss Universe. The 2014 edition was unique though. The failure of the crowd favorite to clinch the title prompted a lot of boos in the audience that was heard on live television. Apparently, Jamaica’s Kaci Fennell did a great job to impress those who watched the show. She became an even bigger favorite after the remaining candidates failed to do well in the question and answer round while she managed to give an outstanding response. When the winner was about to be announced from the top 5, she was declared as 4th runner up which everyone thought was too low given her performance.
14. Miss Universe 2001 Oxana Federova was dethroned
It wasn’t really clear why Oxana was dethroned. Some people say that she resigned as she doesn’t want to continue the responsibility while others say she was dethroned for failing to do what was asked of her. To date, it is still not clear what caused the dethronement, but it was totally unfortunate for someone who has aced her pageant night and was easily crowned the winner.
13. Miss Australia 2010 claims her national costume was sabotaged.
Jesinta Campbell turned 18 when she competed in Miss Universe 2010. It was supposed to be just a happy time for the young lady up until it was reported that her national costume was sabotaged. She said that she found pins all over the dress as she felt them stuck on her back. She also dropped some clues on who were behind the sabotage. Despite what happened though, she managed to go all the way to the top 5, which for some people was an even bigger controversy, considering how undeserving she was.
12. Miss Universe 1973 declared Nixon the “Greatest Man on Earth”.
In the middle of the Watergate scandal, former President Nixon was perhaps the most hated man in the United States. This was not the case for Miss Universe 1973 Margarita Moran from the Philippines who declared him as the “Greatest Man on Earth”. It has caused a huge backlash. After the gaffe, Nixon sent her a thank you note.
11. Miss Guatemala 2015 was accused of cheating.
The rise of social media paved the way for the birth of online voting. The candidate winning most votes gets a special award. In 2015 though, the top scorer was given automatic entry to the top 16. This made the girls campaign really hard to earn votes. Miss Guatemala was said to have taken it too far by cheating the results. She garnered over 30,000 likes in Facebook in just a few days while some others didn’t even reach 1,000. She was accused of using bots to boost her votes.
10. Alicia Machado was warned that she was too fat by Donald Trump.
1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado of Venezuela was almost stripped off the title after gaining weight. Then pageant owner Donald Trump said that she was an “eating machine.” She was forced to do exercise routines in front of the camera. The good thing was that she kept the crown. This stunt of Trump bit him in the back during the 2016 campaign when Machado became a central part of Clinton’s campaign. Machado even became an American citizen to vote against Trump and urged other Latinos to do the same.
9. Miss Colombia 2011 accidentally showing her “veejayjay” during a Miss Universe event
Catalina Robayo represented a pageant powerhouse, Colombia. Winning her national pageant though already stirred controversies as she was deemed undeserving of it. Despite that, she went on to compete in Miss Universe. She was among the head turners not because of her beauty but of her “look at me” attitude. She took it a notch higher when she was caught going commando in one of the events. Her photo immediately went viral. This did not prevent her though from earning a top 16 spot. If anything, it helped her.
8. Miss Puerto Rico 2008 Ingrid Marie Rivera’s dress was sabotaged with pepper spray.
Puerto Rico is one of the countries that are really doing well in Miss Universe. Ingrid Rivera was among the hottest choices for the title that year. Despite her performance, she was excluded from the semifinalists. Shortly after the competition, she said in an interview that her dress was doused with pepper spray that led to severe allergic reaction. It affected her performance and probably made her fail to win. Further investigation though showed that no traces of pepper spray were found on the dress. This led to claims that she was just making excuses for losing.
7. Selfie controversy placed Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon in 2015 in hot waters.
If only we can take politics out of a beauty pageant, this controversy would not have happened. Some people though are too sensitive that a harmless photo between Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon placed them in hot waters. These countries are currently hostile with each other. Therefore, for them to take a photo together was deemed unacceptable for many.
6. Miss Universe Philippines Venus Raj and her “major major” mistake
Venus Raj made the most “major major” mistake of her life when she said that she won’t change anything in her life if given the chance to do so. It immediately became the talk of the night, even after the winner was declared. She was even branded as Miss Perfect for her response. Nevertheless, she opened doors for her country that failed to place for over a decade. After her, Philippines went on to place year in and year out, even winning the crown in 2015.
5. The juicy sex scandal involving Miss Universe contestants.
This is perhaps the biggest scandal of them all since not only photos were revealed but videos. Miss Trinidad and Tobago 2008 Anye Ayoung-Chee was on hot waters after her sex video surfaced. It was not just a sex video though, but one that involves another woman, in a steamy 3-way. Her boyfriend later revealed that the video was leaked after having his computer repaired in Trinidad. The other girl in the video was allegedly Miss Japan 2008. The guy said it was not true though as the video was taken back in 2007, when both Misses Japan and Trinidad didn’t even know each other yet.
4. Miss Universe 2013 was seemingly run by mafias.
If only this claim was 100% true, it would have been the biggest scandal of all. However, this did not really penetrate the news since a lot of girls were afraid to come out. Everything was left to speculations and allegations. In 2013, Trump was able to seal a hosting deal with a Russian billionaire who agreed to pay the cost of hosting the pageant. Everything seemed smooth throughout the pageant, up until later on, it was revealed that the girls were not treated well. Most of them were asked to stay inside their hotel rooms all throughout. Only the heavy favorites were asked to go to bars and other places, but only to take photos and pretend that they were having fun. The security was too strict that no one was allowed to interact with the “outside world” up until the pageant night.
3. Back to back fall for USA
If Venezuela’s back to back victory became a cause of uproar, USA’s back to back fall actually happened first. Rachel Smith, Miss USA 2007, tripped on her gown as she was coming out of the stage. Despite the fall, she managed to move to the next round. Crystle Stewart represented the US in 2008 and also fell during the evening gown. This made people think that she staged the fall to be noticed. Unlike Smith, Stewart didn’t advance to the next round.
2. Donald Trump sold his shares in MUO
Right after declaring his bid for the presidency, Trump has immediately caused controversies. This led to negative reactions among his business circles, including Univision and NBC, the TV partners of the Miss Universe pageant. Eventually, they decided to drop the partnership with Miss Universe. Trump threatened them with a lawsuit. Due to the intensity of calls for him to drop ownership of the pageant, he did. He didn’t drop his bid for the presidency though, and we now know how it turned out.
1.Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner
What could be more controversial than announcing the wrong winner? This took the world by storm in 2015 after Harvey called Colombia as the winner just to go back out on stage to say that it was actually the Philippines who won. This led to series of negative reactions and fights among the countries involved and everyone whose feelings was hurt. Harvey took ownership of the mistake. Despite what happened, he was invited back to host the pageant. The next edition is being held in the Philippines as to this writing!
As juicy as all these scandals and fails are, we definitely are in for some more in the future. Let’s wait and see what else comes along!