S’PORE’S REPRESENTATIVE AT CONTROVERSIAL MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT REVEALS WHAT WENT ON BEHIND THE SCENES
By NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN
World Peace? Let’s try for an end to hostilities between Team Philippines and Team Colombia first.
In case you’re one of the millions who gave the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas on Dec 20 a miss, here’s a quick summary of what happened.
US comedian host Steve Harvey first announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez-Arevalo, 21, as the new Miss Universe. She received her crown and was soaking in the applause.
Harvey then realised his mistake and said the winner was actually Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, 26.
Because of the debacle, there has been conspiracy theories, wild allegations and even death threats.
First, it appears both Miss Philippines and Miss Colombia weren’t exactly Miss Popular, according to Miss Universe Singapore Lisa Marie White, 22, who was on stage when the mix-up happened.
In a telephone interview with The New Paper, she said: “When the top three were announced, some contestants were unhappy and there was quite an uproar.
“My vote went to Miss Philippines because I felt she did well in her Q&A, but at least seven girls forfeited their votes.”
This year, votes from the contestants themselves and fans around the world were also taken into consideration.
Miss White said that during the competition, the majority of the 78 contestants took time to get to know each other, but Miss Gutierrez-Arevalo and Miss Wurtzbach kept to themselves.
Some girls, she said, felt that Miss Wurtzbach was “guarded” while Miss Gutierrez-Arevalo appeared “stuck-up and arrogant”.
“Pia seemed nice and I’m sure if I had the chance to get to know her, I would like her. She seemed really nice to her friends and fans,” said Miss White, a freelance model and aspiring actress who is of Malay and New Zealander parentage.
One of the four judges, US celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, 37, didn’t mince his words.
He maintained that Miss Wurtzbach was deserving of the coveted crown in a podcast released soon after the pageant.
He also slammed Miss Gutierrez-Arevalo for being a “straight-up diva bitch… (who was) rude to her translator” and “giving the most awful side-eye, throwing major shade” during the Q&A segment.
“It was that Miss Philippines gave a better answer. She deserves it,” he added.
Miss White said many of the contestants were surprised when the pair, together with Miss USA Olivia Jordan, made it into the top three.
The general consensus, she said, was that they were rooting for Miss France and Miss Australia.
Another fallout from the Miss Universe crowning fiasco – other contestants have also been thrown into the Miss Unpopular pool.
Miss Germany Sarah-Lorraine Riek was criticised worldwide over her comments about Miss Wurtzbach’s win.
Miss USA, too, was thrown into the fray. Miss Olivia Jordan, 27, faced death threats for reportedly laughing at the mistakenly-crowned Miss Gutierrez-Arevalo on stage.
She later said she was “deeply saddened at how many people choose to be negative and hateful on social media” and clarified that she did not laugh at anyone and had “reacted to an uncomfortable and bizarre situation by seeing the positive”.
But no one got it worse than host Harvey himself, who has been the subject of nasty memes and global online abuse.
Rumours swirled that he had missed the last hour of rehearsals, and had been drinking and gambling hours before the competition.
Not true, said Miss White.
Harvey had indeed been at the rehearsal and seemed sober during the pageant finale.
Despite his “unfortunate mistake”, Miss White said he did his job well as a host that night.
And the organisers seem to have no hard feelings.
Mr Mark Shapiro, chief content officer of WME IMG (the company that owns the Miss Universe Organisation), said on Tuesday that he “definitely” wants Harvey to return as host next year.
Miss White said: “If he returns next year, I have no objections to that. He is only human and he made a mistake. It’s unfortunate that it had to be at such a public affair.”
If he returns next year, I have no objections to that. He is only human and he made a mistake. It’s unfortunate that it had to be at such a public affair.
– Miss Singapore Lisa Marie White on host Steve Harvey