Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by the American-based Miss Universe Organization. It airs in more than 190 countries worldwide and seen by more than half a billion people annually. Along with Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth, Miss Universe is one of the Big Four international beauty pageants.
|Formation||June 28, 1952|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York|
|Paula Shugart (since 1997) |
|Affiliations||William Morris Endeavor|
|US$100 million (annually)|
The title "Miss Universe" was first used by the International Pageant of Pulchritude in 1926. This contest was held annually until 1935, when the Great Depression and other events preceding World War II led to its demise.
The current Miss Universe pageant was founded in 1952 by Pacific Knitting Mills, a California-based clothing company and manufacturer of Catalina Swimwear. The company was the sponsor of the Miss America pageant until 1951, when the winner, Yolande Betbeze, refused to pose for publicity pictures wearing one of their swimsuits. In 1952, Pacific Knitting Mills organized the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, co-sponsoring them for decades to follow.
The first Miss Universe Pageant was held in Long Beach, California in 1952. It was won by Armi Kuusela from Finland, who gave up her title, though not officially, to get married, shortly before her year was completed. Until 1958, the Miss Universe title, like that of Miss America, was dated by the year following the contest, so at the time Ms. Kuusela's title was Miss Universe 1953.
Since its founding by Pacific Mills, the pageant has been organized and conducted by the Miss Universe Organization. Eventually Pacific Mills and its subsidiaries were acquired by the Kayser-Roth Corporation, which was in turn acquired by Gulf and Western Industries.
The pageant was first televised in 1955. CBS began broadcasting the combined Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants in 1960, and as separate contests in 1965. John Charles Daly hosted the pageant from 1955 to 1966, Bob Barker from 1967 to 1987, Alan Thicke in 1988, John Forsythe in 1989, Dick Clark from 1990 to 1993, and Bob Goen from 1994 to 1996.
Donald Trump bought the pageant in 1996 from ITT Corp. Trump struck a broadcasting arrangement with CBS until 2002. In 1998, Miss Universe, Inc. changed its name to the Miss Universe Organization, and moved its headquarters from Los Angeles to New York City. In late 2002, Trump entered into a joint venture with NBC, which in 2003 outbid the other markets for the TV rights. From 2003 to 2014, the pageant was broadcast in the United States on NBC.
In June 2015, NBC canceled all business relationships with Trump and the Miss Universe Organization in response to controversial statements about illegal immigrants who crossed the border from Mexico. As part of the legal settlement, in September 2015, Trump bought out NBC's 50% stake in the company, making him the company's sole owner. Three days later he sold the whole company to WME/IMG. Following the change of ownership, in October 2015, Fox and Azteca became the official broadcasters of the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants. The current president of the Miss Universe Organization is Paula Shugart, who has held this position since 1997.
For a country to participate in Miss Universe, a local company or a person should buy the local rights of the competition, through a franchise fee, which involves the rights of image, brand and everything related to the pageant. Often, the owner of this franchise, for contractual breaches or financial reasons, returns the franchise to the Miss Universe Organization, which resells it to a new stakeholder. The reselling of the franchise from one owner to the next is recurrently common in the history of the event. The number of candidates in the contest is inconstant because of the question of the franchisees. In addition, there are problems related to the calendar of the pageant.
Usually a country's candidate selection involves pageants in the nation's local subdivisions, whose winners compete in a national pageant, but there are some countries who opt for an internal selection. For example, from 2000 to 2004, Australian delegates were chosen by a modelling agency. Although such "castings" are generally discouraged by the Miss Universe Organization, Jennifer Hawkins was chosen to represent the country in Miss Universe in 2004 (where she would eventually win the crown). When Australia resumed its national pageant in the following year, Michelle Guy became Miss Universe Australia 2005.
Recent arrivals in the last ten years of the pageant include: Gabon and Lithuania (2012), Azerbaijan (2013), Sierra Leone (2016), Cambodia, Laos and Nepal (2017), Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia (2018).
There have also been efforts to revive strong national pageants in South Africa, Canada, Spain, Japan, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The organization makes continual efforts to expand the pageant, but the participation of some countries has proven difficult due to cultural barriers to the swimsuit competition, while others such as Mozambique have balked at sending representatives due to the cost.
As of 2018, only four countries have been present at every Miss Universe since its inception in 1952: Canada, France, USA, and Germany (West Germany until 1990, as a result of reunification with the East). Many European countries allow 17-year-old contestants to compete in their pageants, while Miss Universe's minimum age is 18, so national titleholders often have to be replaced by their runners-up or another candidate. Beginning in 2012, transgender women were allowed to compete, as long as they win their national pageants. Six years after this rule went into effect, Angela Ponce of Spain became the first transgender candidate to compete in the contest in the 2018  edition. Since its inception, Miss Universe strictly prohibits age fabrication.
Some of the most successful national countries in the last decade have been Venezuela, United States, Puerto Rico and Philippines which command consistently high interest and television ratings in their respective countries. The live broadcasts of the Miss Universe pageant (regardless of the hosting nation) proved highly popular particularly in the Americas and Asia in recent years.
The main Miss Universe contest is held over a two-week period in December. From the 1970s through the 1990s, the pageant was a month long. This allowed time for rehearsals, appearances, and the preliminary competition, with the winner being crowned by the previous year's titleholder during the final competition.
According to the organizers, the Miss Universe contest is more than a beauty pageant: women aspiring to become Miss Universe must be intelligent, well-mannered, and cultured. Often a candidate has lost because she did not have a good answer during the question and answer round, a round that has gained significant importance in recent decades. Delegates also participate in swimsuit and evening gown competitions.
Currently, the final placement of the finalists is determined by a ranked vote, where each judge ranks each of the final three/five candidates, with the contestant posting the lowest cumulative score (thus often, but not necessarily always, the contestant with the most number one votes) becoming the winner. If there is a tie, the higher semifinal scores become decisive.
The winner is assigned a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, going overseas to spread messages about the control of diseases, peace, and public awareness of AIDS. Aside from the job, the winner also receives a cash allowance for her entire reign, a New York Film Academy scholarship, a modelling portfolio, beauty products, clothes, shoes, as well as styling, healthcare, and fitness services by different sponsors of the pageant. She also gains exclusive access to events such as fashion shows and opening galas, as well as access to casting calls and modelling opportunities throughout New York City. The winner is given the use of a Trump Place apartment in New York City during her reign, which she shares with the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA titleholders. If the winner, for any reason, cannot fulfill her duties as Miss Universe, the 1st runner-up takes over.
Aside from the main winner and her runners-up, special awards are also given to the winners of the best National Costume, Miss Photogenic, and Miss Congeniality. The Miss Congeniality award is chosen by the delegates themselves. In recent years, Miss Photogenic has been chosen by popular internet vote (the winner used to be chosen by media personnel covering the event).
The competition for the Miss Universe title has seen many changes, although there have been several constants throughout its history. All the contestants compete in a preliminary round of judging (nowadays called the "Preliminary Competition") where the field is narrowed to a select number of semifinalists. This number has fluctuated over the years. The first Miss Universe pageant had ten semifinalists. For the next two years, the number of semifinalists grew to 16. In 1955, the number dropped to a stable 15, which remained through 1970. In 1971, the number was reduced to 12. That number was further reduced to 10 in 1984. This lasted until 2003, when the contest reinstated the Top 15. This selection continued to be the norm until 2015, except in 2006 and 2011 to 2013. In 2006 and 2018, there were 20 semifinalists, the highest number of contestants through to the semifinals (and with 2018 currently featuring the most competing contestants overall).
From 2011 to 2013, there were 16 semifinalists, 15 chosen by judges and one chosen through Internet votes. In the 2016 edition, there were 13 semifinalists - 12 chosen by judges panel from the quarantine to the preliminary night and one chosen by Twitter and Vodi app. In 2017, 16 semifinalists were selected from 4 different groups each hailing from a different region in the world - Africa & Asia-Pacific, Europe, The Americas - and a wild card group (all regions covered). The wild card spots have been in place since 2017.
In the early years, the contestants were judged in swimsuit and evening gown only. However, since 2015, the climax round for the live pageant is the question and answer portion of the Top 3 remaining contestants. The contestants also competed in a preliminary interview round in a one-on-one meeting with each individual judge, as well as in the national costume show in the preliminaries, although the live interview round for the semifinalists was dropped as a separate segment with bearing to determine the winner in 2004, and was integrated in the introduction of the semifinalists in 2016. The 2018 edition marked the first time that the Miss Universe pageant included the live opening statements after the semifinalists have been announced to be with bearing in determining the winner of the competition.
Crowns of Miss Universe
The crown of Miss Universe has changed nine times over the course of its 67-year history.
- The Romanov Imperial nuptial crown (1952) as the first crown, was previously owned by the now-defunct Russian monarchy. It was used by Armi Kuusela in 1952.
- Romanov Diadem / Metal Bronze Crown (1953) — When Christiane Martel of France became Miss Universe 1953, the nuptial crown was replaced by a metallic bronze crown. She was the only Miss Universe titleholder to wear this crown.
- The Star of the Universe (1954–60) — This crown was used from 1954 to 1960. It was named as such due to the star shape at the top of the crown. It is made up of approximately 1,000 Oriental cultured and black pearls set in solid gold and platinum and only weighed 1.25 pounds. It was insured for US$500,000.
- Rhinestone Crown / Coventry Crown (1961–2001) — This crown was purely made from rhinestones, debuting in 1961 as part of the 10th anniversary of the Miss Universe pageant. Only Marlene Schmidt from Germany and Norma Nolan from Argentina wore this crown. In 1963, renowned jeweler Sarah Coventry reinvented the rhinestone crown which featured a female figure (holding a scepter) as its main centerpiece. The cheaper cost of its rhinestone design made it possible to create exact replicas of the crown to be given to outgoing titleholders. The design was slightly modified in 1973 for the wearer's convenience. This crown was dubbed as The Lady Crown and was used until 2001 when the Mikimoto Pearl company accepted the offer to sponsor a commemorative crown for the Miss Universe Organization.
- Mikimoto Crown (2002–07; 2017–present) — used from 2002–2007 for the 50th commemorative anniversary of the Miss Universe organization, this crown was designed by Tomohiro Yamaji for the Mikimoto Company, the official jewel sponsor of the Miss Universe Organization. The crown depicted the phoenix rising, signifying status, power and beauty, as stipulated in their sponsorship deal. The crown has 500 natural colorless diamonds of almost 30 carats (6.0 g), 120 South Sea and Akoya pearls, ranging in size from 3 to 18 mm diameter and is valued at US$250,000. The crown was designed for the pageant on Mikimoto Pearl Island in Japan with the Mikimoto crown and tiara being first used for Miss Universe 2002, which was unveiled by former proprietor Donald Trump. Among pageant connoisseurs, the Mikimoto crown is reputedly the most sought among beauty title holders, making an unprecedented return in January (press photography) and November 2017 (coronation night).
- CAO Crown (2008) — In 2008, Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela was crowned with a tiara designed by a tandem of Rosalina Lydster and Dang Kim Lien of CAO Fine Jewelry. The crown was valued at US$120,000, was made of an 18 karat combination of white and yellow gold and composed of over 1,000 precious stones, including 555 white diamonds (30 carats), 375 cognac diamonds (14 carats), 10 smoky quartz crystals (20 carats) and 19 morganite gemstones (60 carats). The yellow lustre of the gold represents the prosperous thriving economy in Vietnam as symbolized by a Vietnamese Crane heron. However, Mendoza declined to use this crown and thus insisted on the Mikimoto crown when she crowned her compatriot, Stefanía Fernández as her successor.
- Nexus Crown (2009–13) — From 2009–2013, Diamond Nexus Labs made the Miss Universe crown. The crown is set with 1,371 gemstones, weighing a total of 416.09 carats (83.218 g). It contains 544.31 grams of 14k and 18k white gold as well as platinum. The crown features synthetic rubies to represent Miss Universe's HIV/AIDS education and awareness platform. Diamond Nexus Labs is the first ever eco-friendly Official Jeweler of Miss Universe and was selected as part of NBC Universal's "Green is Universal" initiative.
- DIC Crown (2014–16) — From 2014–2016, Paulina Vega, Pia Wurtzbach, and Iris Mittenaere were decorated with the DIC Crown, estimated to be worth US$300,000 and produced by Czech company Diamonds International Corporation (DIC). The whole production process took approximately four months and required the work of ten artisans. The crown is reminiscent of the Manhattan Skyline and is composed of 311 diamonds, 5 pieces of blue topaz, 198 pieces of blue sapphire, 33 pieces of heat—fired crystals, and 220 grams of 18k karat white gold. The grand total weight of the crown is 411 grams. This crown was retired in 2017 due to a copyright infringement and subsequent payment issues between DIC and the Miss Universe Organization, thereby reverting to the Nexus crown during the reign of Iris Mittenaere of France.
Gallery of Miss Universe crowns
|Edition||Country||Title Holder||National Title||Venue of Competition||Number of Entrants|
|2018||Philippines||Catriona Gray||Binibining Pilipinas||Bangkok, Thailand||94|
|2017||South Africa||Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters||Miss South Africa||Las Vegas, United States||92|
|2016||France||Iris Mittenaere||Miss France||Manila, Philippines||86|
|2015||Philippines||Pia Wurtzbach||Binibining Pilipinas||Las Vegas, United States||80|
|2014||Colombia||Paulina Vega||Señorita Colombia||Miami, United States||88|
Gallery of winners
Miss Universe Organization
The Miss Universe Organization is the organization that currently owns and runs the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA beauty contests. Based in New York, the organization is owned by WME/IMG. The current president is Paula Shugart. The organization sells television rights to the pageants in other countries.
Miss Universe Organization titleholders
The following is a list of all Miss Universe Organization titleholders over the years.
a In 2002, Fedorova was dethroned by the Miss Universe Organization and replaced by Pasek, the first runner-up.
b In 1957, Gage was stripped of her Miss USA title when it was revealed that she was married and the mother of two children. Sheffield, the first runner-up, replaced her.
The Miss Universe brand has been licensed for use in various products, including Farouk Systems' line of hair care products named Miss Universe Style Illuminate by CHI.
Electronic Arts was reportedly developing a video game based on the pageant, but development status is currently uncertain due to the closure of EA Black Box, the studio allegedly developing the game. A slot machine mobile game, Miss Universe: Crowning Moment, was released by High 5 Casino for iOS and Android devices in 2013.
An official mobile companion app of the Miss Universe Organization was released in May 2016.
Notes and references
- Natalie Tadena (July 2, 2015).Donald Trump’s Miss USA Pageant Lands on Reelz Cable Channel. Wall Street Journal.
- "WME/IMG Acquires The Miss Universe Organization". Archived from the original on 2015-12-20.
- Enriquez, Amee (2 February 2014). "Beauty Pageant Basics". bbc.com. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- Bundel, Ani (16 December 2018). "Miss Universe is the only major beauty pageant worth watching. Here's why". NBC News. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
- FUNFARE by Ricky Lo (June 28, 2006). "A misty-eyed look at Armi Kuusela, the 1st Miss Universe". philstar.com. The Philippine Star. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Prestigious Beauty Pageant (November 18, 2013). "Four Big Ships Dominate International Beauty Pageants". Prestigious Beauty Pageants. Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
- "Miss USA Olivia Culpo is Miss Universe 2012!". India Today. December 19, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
- Foreman, Jonathan (January 18, 1999). "Mistress of the Universe". New York Post. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
- WME/IMG Acquires Miss Universe Organization From Donald Trump
- Jim Rutenberg (June 22, 2002). "Three Beauty Pageants Leaving CBS for NBC". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
- Stanhope, Kate (2015-06-29). "NBC Cuts Ties With Donald Trump Over "Derogatory Statements," Pulls Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-06-30.
- "NBCUniversal cuts ties with Donald Trump". CNN Money. June 29, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
- "Trump Sells Miss Universe Organization to WME-IMG Talent Agency". The New York Times. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- Jethro Nededog (14 September 2015). "Donald Trump sells the Miss Universe Organization - Business Insider". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "Miss Universe and Miss USA Pageants to Air on Fox". TV Insider. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "PAULA M. SHUGART". Miss Universe. Miss Universe Organization. Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
- Dillon, Nancy (10 April 2012). "Transgender contestants can compete in Miss Universe". Daily News. New York..
- "ÁNGELA PONCE: LA TRANSEXUAL MÁS HERMOSA DE ESPAÑA QUE CAMBIARÁ PARA SIEMPRE MISS UNIVERSO". be Miss Universe Spain (in Spanish). 9 July 2018.
- "Miss Venezuela Parades Online". PR Newswire. September 18, 2002. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
The Miss Venezuela broadcast, which on average captures a whopping 74% of the Venezuelan television market share for Venevision, will also be available to users on demand.
- Felicia R. Lee (October 10, 2007). "Three Crowns Sharing One Apartment". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "IN PHOTOS: Miss Universe crowns through the years". Rappler. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
- "Mikimoto History Timeline". mikimotoamerica.com. Archived from the original on August 1, 2014.
- "Connection to MISS UNIVERSE®". diamondnexus.com.
- "Diamond Nexus Labs Announced as The Official Jewelry of The Miss Universe Organization". redorbit.com. redOrbit. February 3, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
- Pia Wurzbach with the Czech Crown
- 4every1 s.r.o. "New Miss Universe to be decorated by crown made by Czech company DIC, for the first time in the pageant's history". Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- Don Chareunsy. "Philippines crowned Miss Universe after Harvey wrongly names Colombia winner". LasVegasSun.com. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- "MISS UNIVERSE® Style Illuminate by CHI - Hairstyling Line". MISS UNIVERSE® Style Illuminate by CHI. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
- "10 Awful-Sounding Video Games That (Fortunately) Got Cancelled". WhatCulture.com. 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
- "MISS UNIVERSE® Crowning Moment Headlines H5G November Releases | High 5 Games". www.high5games.com. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
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