Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu is the new Miss Universe.
The reigning Miss Universe, Andrea Meza of Mexico, crowned her successor on Sunday night at the 70th annual Miss Universe pageant in Eilat, Israel.
Steve Harvey hosted the international competition, which featured 80 contestants vying for the tiara. Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira, and Sandu’s Miss India were the final three.
Miss South Africa, one of many contestants pushed by her own government to boycott the controversial pageant in order to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, finished second runner-up.
When the winner was announced as Bollywood actress Miss India, Sandhu burst into tears before taking her first stage walk as Miss Universe.
Minutes remaining in the telecast There were some exciting live TV moments on Sunday. Earlier in the show, Harvey alluded to his Miss Universe 2015 blunder, in which he announced the incorrect winner. Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, who was actually the first runner-up, was named the winner in 2015 instead of Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who won the competition.
When it came down to the final two on Sunday, Harvey referred to Miss Paraguay as “Miss Portugal” seconds before announcing the winner. He quickly corrected the error.
“They wrote Portugal on the damn sign, and they’re trying to play me again,” Harvey said of the producers of the show. “This year, I’m not going for it.”
Harvey had earlier in the competition asked Sandu, who had just made it to the top 16 as Miss India, “I’ve heard you’re quite good at animal impersonation. Let’s hear it for your best one.”
Sandhu responded from the stage with a cat’s meow, which quickly became an internet meme, while Harvey received some criticism on Twitter for the question.
Miss America Elle Smith, a 23-year-old University of Kentucky graduate and broadcast news reporter for WHAS-TV in Louisville, made the top ten on Sunday night. Smith, on the other hand, was denied a spot in the top five.
Smith, as Miss Kentucky, was crowned Miss USA 2021 at the annual pageant last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Smith drew attention to the deadly weekend tornadoes that ravaged her home state ahead of Sunday’s Miss Universe pageant. “My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by the tornadoes in western Kentucky. These images only represent a small portion of the devastation in this community. Over 70 people have died, with many more still missing “Smith shared a message on Instagram, directing followers to a fundraising page.
Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Kentucky in 2020, served as vice president of the school’s National Association of Black Journalists chapter, and worked as a summer Fox News College Associate in the Washington, D.C. bureau, according to her WHAS-TV bio.
The arrival of the omicron variant, which forced Israel to close its borders to foreign tourists late last month, caused a last-minute hiccup in Sunday’s competition.
The majority of the Miss Universe contestants were already in the country when the new rules went into effect. Those who arrived later, on the other hand, were granted special permission to enter, albeit with a mandatory 72-hour quarantine period.
Throughout the 48-hour period leading up to Sunday’s competition, all contestants were tested for the coronavirus and were required to wear strict masks.
The contest has also gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks for other reasons.
A Palestinian-led grassroots boycott had urged contestants to skip the event in order to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Only Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country with close ties to the Palestinians, did not send a representative, citing the global COVID-19 situation. South Africa’s government, which also strongly supports the Palestinian cause, withdrew its support for the country’s representative due to her participation.
In an interview last month, Meza urged contestants to avoid politics during the pageant, stating that the event was intended to bring together women from various backgrounds. “When you’re in there, you forget about politics and religion,” she explained at the time.