Without a doubt, Miss Universe is the biggest pageant on Earth. It has been running for several decades now, and is still widely participated by women from around the world. It has also raked massive TV ratings through the years. This is why every girl dreams of becoming a Miss Universe.
As this year’s pageant is on the way, let us take a look at some of the most interesting facts about Miss Universe, its winners, and the candidates.
12. The United States has won the most crowns since Miss Universe began in 1952.
Currently, the US has amassed a total of 8 Miss Universe crowns, with Olivia Culpo being the latest titleholder in 2012. For a pageant based in the US, it is no surprise that they have won this much. The more interesting fact though is that Venezuela is very close with 7 crowns, and could very well have their 8th soon. Puerto Rico ranks third with 5 crowns, but it is even more interesting considering that this small island only has a population of just over 3 million, and is not even an independent country.
11. At 26, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is among the oldest titleholders.
Age requirements in Miss Universe keep changing. The latest rule is that the candidates must be between 18-26 years old. Hence, when Pia won the title in 2015, she joined Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998 and Brooke Lee, Miss Universe 1997, as the oldest candidates to have won the crown at 26. The first ever titleholder, Armi Kuusela from Finland, was the youngest to get the crown at just 17.
10. Mpule Kwelagobe’s victory in 1999 was celebrated for several reasons.
1n 1999, Mpule Kwelagobe won the Miss Universe title for Botswana. It is even more special considering that it is Botswana’s first time to send a delegate in the pageant. Many other countries have been joining since the first years of Miss Universe, but are yet to win a crown. It was also a celebration for she is the first black African to have won the title. The first African to win was Margaret Gardiner from South Africa, but she is of Caucasian descent. The first black beauty to win the title was Janelle Commissiong, but she represented the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. Mpule went on to become one of the most successful winners ever.
9. Miss Universe 2006’ gown was too heavy it caused her to faint backstage.
Not so many people know about this, but Zuleyka’s iconic gown in Miss Universe 2006 was extremely heavy. She made it look light though with the way she carried it. Considering the metal chains which served as the foundation of the dress, it left some red marks on her nape. Add to that the fact that she has not really eaten a lot in preparation for the pageant. After winning the title, she collapsed backstage. Nevertheless, the Carlos Alberto gown will go down in history as one of the best winning gowns ever.
8. Height is just a number in Miss Universe.
Some people think that height is might when it comes to pageants. After all, models that do well are usually tall. In Miss Universe though, it does not really matter much. Dominican Republic’s Amelia Vega was the tallest to have won the title in 2003 at 6’1”. Apasra Honsakula of Thailand (1965) and Marina Zuluaga of Colombia (1958) won their respective years despite being just 5’4”. Olivia Culpo who won in 2012 was also short at just 5’5”. In short, if you are what the pageant is looking for, you will win regardless of your height.
7. Only 5 black beauties have won the title since its inception.
The Miss Universe pageant is a celebration of the diversity of beauty. Sadly, its record does not necessarily depict diversity. Since 1952, only 5 black women have taken the title home. This includes Leila Lopes (2011), Angola, Mpule Kwelagobe (1999), Botswana, Wendy Fitzwilliam (1998), Trinidad and Tobago, Chelsi Smith (1995), USA, and Janelle Commissiong (1977), Trinidad and Tobago. This is why the pageant has been accused of being racist many times throughout its existence. Sadly, not only Miss Universe has this record. Even other major pageants don’t have a lot of ebony beauties who took the title home.
6. 7 Titleholders won the crown in their home country.
Winning the title alone is already special. Getting it back home makes it even better. This was felt by 6 crown holders from the United States who won the title in their home turf. The only candidate who was not from the US was Denise Quinones who won the title in 2001, representing Puerto Rico. Indeed, they have proven that home court advantage exists even in pageants.
5. Venezuela is the first country to win a back to back victory
No other country has made this record other than Venezuela. In a stunning surprise, Estefania Fernandez won the title in 2009 and was crowned by her fellow Venezuelan, Dayana Mendoza. The 2 genuinely celebrated their victory that night as they were jumping during the coronation. The only other country to has come close was Colombia. Paulina Vega won in 2014 and had already given the crown to Ariadna Guttierez when host Steve Harvey went back on stage to say that it was Philippines that won the crown.
4. Colombia waited 56 years before winning another Miss Universe crown.
The longest gap in winning the Miss Universe title belongs to Colombia. It took 56 years before Paulina Vega brought the title back after they’ve won it in 1958. Colombia has bagged several first runner ups throughout history though, earning them the title of being always the Miss Universe bridesmaid. Japan was next as they’ve waited 48 years (1959-2007) and Philippines for 42 years (1973-2015).
3. The first Miss Universe to be dethroned was Miss Russia in 2002.
When you win the title, you would hope that you will keep it up until it is time to pass the crown to your successor. Sadly, this was not the case for Oxana Federova of Russia who was dethroned from her position just 4 months into her reign. Organizers said she failed to fulfill her duties, while Oxana said that she resigned from the job. Until now, there are varying stories regarding her dethronement.
2. India reached the “Golden Age” in pageants before fading.
Miss Universe is considered the top pageant along with Miss World. No other country has won the crown for both pageants in the same year other than India. Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai had a tough national pageant competition, making it really difficult for the judges to decide who goes where. Apparently, both went to the right pageant as they both took the crowns home. This record was yet to be broken by another country when they did it again in 2000 after Priyanka Chopra won Miss World while Lara Dutta won Miss Universe. Add to that Diya Mirza’s victory in Miss Asia Pacific, which was among the top 5 pageants at that time. Sadly though, India didn’t win any crown for both Miss Universe and Miss World until now.
1. Miss Universe 2015 joined her local pageant thrice before earning the right to compete in Miss Universe.
Pia Wurtzbach’s victory might be very unusual after she was first announced as a runner up to Colombia’s Ariadna Guttierez. It wasn’t the first time that Pia felt defeat though as she competed thrice in her national pageant before earning the right to compete in Miss Universe. On her first try in 2013, 5 pageant titles were given out and 1 runner up was called who won’t have any international competition that year. Despite being a strong candidate, she was deprived of a crown and took the runner up home instead. The year after, she joined again. It was even worse in 2014 as she was not even included in the winners’ circle. This did not stop her from pursuing her dreams. In 2015, she joined the pageant again and finally won Miss Universe Philippines. On a side note, her predecessor, Mary Jean Lastimosa, also joined the local pageant thrice before winning the right to compete in Miss Universe. She ended up only in the top 10 though.
For sure, there will be more records and interesting facts to be revealed later as the Miss Universe pageant continues making history. For now, let us just appreciate the beauties who have worked hard to earn the title.