Entertainment: Miss South Africa was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Atlanta after a lavish ceremony filled with glitter and heartfelt speeches about female empowerment. Zozibini Tunzi, 26, finished first ahead of the Puerto Rican and Mexican finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American comic turned TV personality Steve Harvey.
Television personalities Vanessa Lachey and Olivia Culpo served as
backstage commentators, and a panel of seven women determined the winner.
Tunzi earned cheers during her closing speech, a new segment of the
competition, in which she talked about wanting to empower young women to feel
“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin
and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful,” she said.
“I think that it is time that that stops today,” she said to thunderous
Tunzi beat more than 90 contestants from around the globe in the 68th
installment of Miss Universe, which was held in Atlanta’s Tyler Perry
The two favorites ahead of the competition, Miss Thailand Paweensuda
Saetan-Drouin and Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados, did not make it to the
The Philippines’ Catriona Gray, who presented Tunzi with the crown, took
home the Miss Universe crown in 2018.
Although she did not make the finals, Miss Myanmar Swe Zin Htet made waves
last week when she came out as the competition’s first openly gay contestant.
“I have that platform that, if I say that I’m a lesbian, it will have a big
impact on the LGBTQ community back in Burma,” Htet told People magazine,
using her country’s historic name.
Homosexuality is illegal in the southeast Asian country and is punishable
by up to life in prison.
In 2018, the competition also featured Miss Spain Angela Ponce, who blazed
a trail as Miss Universe’s first transgender contestant.
But the pageant has had a controversial past. Multiple contestants have
alleged that US President Donald Trump would regularly enter the competitors’
changing room while he owned the organization from 1996-2015.
Additionally, Miss Universe continues to host the swimsuit competition,
which has drawn criticism for objectifying the contestants, although that
part of the pageant was not televised.