[NEW YORK] A 26-year-old actress and model from the Philippines was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday after host Steve Harvey mistakenly first announced that Miss Colombia had won the 64th edition of the pageant broadcast live on the Fox television network.
The pageant ended with a gaff, after its first edition since the annual beauty show was thrust into controversy when then co-owner and U.S. presidential candidate, Donald Trump, made disparaging remarks about immigrants.
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, a Filipino-German actress and model born in Stuttgart and raised in Cagayan de Oro, was announced as runner-up to Miss Colombia, before Harvey announced to the audience that he had made a mistake.
Ariadna Gutierrez Arévalo, 21, of Sincelejo, Colombia, had already been crowned by Miss Universe of 2014, Paulina Vega of Barranquilla, Colombia, who was forced to remove the crown and give it to Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. Olivia Jordan, 27, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, finished third. "I am so regretful," Harvey said on Twitter in an apology to the contestants from Colombia and the Philippines.
When asked why she wanted to be Miss Universe, Ms Wurtzbach replied that, "I will use my voice to influence the youth and I would raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness, that is timely and relevant to my country." "I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart," she said.
Among the more notable moments, Flora Coquerel of France, who was at the Paris stadium the night of the November attacks by militant Islamistss, reached the final five and Ariana Miyamoto of Japan, whose father is African-American, reached the top 10 contestants.
Ms Miyamoto's height of 1.73m and bronze skin are unusual in Japan and her selection to represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant created an online firestorm in her native country.
For the first time, viewers had a chance to vote on the winner, rating contestants in the swimwear, evening gown and interview competitions.
Until recently, the pageant was co-owned by Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal and Mr Trump, who is leading national polls in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race.
Earlier, Mr Trump's remarks about Mexicans in announcing his presidential candidacy in June drew sharp criticism, and the Spanish-language network Univision pulled out of a deal to televise the pageant.
Mr Trump, who has sued Univision for US$500 million, bought out NBC's stake in the Miss Universe Organisation, which produces both Sunday's pageant and the Miss USA contest. He sold the company in September.
The panel of judges included former National Football League great Emmitt Smith, celebrity blog mogul Perez Hilton and 2012 Miss Universe winner Olivia Culpo. Hilton, a Miss USA judge, said the two most important things about the pageant were the vastly larger audience and that Trump was no longer owner.