Miss Universe
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[box type=”default” size=”large”] Miss Philippines crowned after host Harvey announced wrong winner [/box]

CHICAGO – Watching the Miss Universe beauty pageant last Dec. 20 on live television was like watching a close boxing match in the dying seconds of the last round, but then arose a problem: The referee read the wrong scores.

In one of the most bizarre and surreal endings of the Miss Universe finale, TV host Steve Harvey announced Miss Columbia Ariadna Gutierrez-Arévalo as the 2015 Universe winner.

But a few seconds later after reigning 2014 Miss Universe Paulina Vega crowned her country mate Miss Columbia, Harvey trotted back to the stage to announce that he made a mistake.

Harvey clarified that the first runner-up was Miss Colombia and that the winner of the Miss Universe 2015 title is Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who was  shocked as did Miss Columbia as the crown was being taken away from her and was being given to Miss Wurtzbach.

When Harvey went back to the stage of Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, he flashed the scorecard that showed Miss USA second runner-up; Miss Colombia first runner-up; and Miss Universe Miss Philippines. This prompted an unbelieving and shocked Miss Philippines to amble tentatively towards the center of the stage and wait for 2014 Miss Universe Paulina Vega to crown her as 2015 Miss Universe.

Miss Universe Paulina Vega had just placed the crown on Miss Philippines’ head when the unfolding drama abruptly went off the air.

Harvey later said, “I have to apologize. I take responsibility for it. The (first) runner-up is Miss Colombia. And Miss Universe 2015 is Miss Philippines.”

Had Miss Columbia won, it could have been the second back-to-back country winner since 2009 when Miss Venezuela Stefania Fernandez was crowned by her country mate 2008 Miss Venezuela Dayana Mendoza, the 2008 Miss Universe.

The mistake caused Miss Colombia to shed tears as she was being demoted from being Miss Universe to first runner-up.

A Filipino-German actress, model and beauty pageant titleholder, Wurtzbach was born in Stuttgart, Germany to a German father and a Filipino mother. But she claims Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, where she grew up, as her home city. She speaks German, Filipino and English. She has one sister who is two years younger than her.

Pia finished her secondary education at the ABS-CBN Distance Learning Center and studied culinary arts at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies in Metro Manila. She worked as a model for cosmetics products. At the age of 11, with the screen name Pia Romero, she worked as an actress. Pia is also a stylist and writer for the lifestyle section of a leading newspaper in the Philippines.

In the final question-and-answer portion, Pia gave an intelligent statement when she was asked, “Why should you be the next Miss Universe?

“To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and a responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I will raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country, i.e. Philippines. I want to show to the world — the Universe, rather — that I am confident and beautiful from the heart.”

Wurtzbach becomes the third Filipina to win the title since Gloria Diaz won in 1969, and Margie Moran took the crown home in 1973.

Rounding up the top five finalists were Misses Philippines, France, Colombia, Australia and U.S.A.

On the first question-and-answer round which dealt with country-based questions, she was asked what is her opinion on as the U.S. military presence in the Philippines, Wurtzbach said the Philippines has good relationship with the United States and was a former colony of America and she sees no problem with U.S. military presence in her country.

In his initial twit a few hours after the contest, Harvey said, “I want to apologize emphatically to Miss Philippians and Miss Columbia. This was a terribly honest human mistake and I am so regretful.” But later he deleted the twit as he misspelled Philippines and Colombia.

Harvey, who has 3.07 million followers as host of the Family Feud game show on GSN channel, later corrected it, saying, “I’d like to apologize wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia & Miss Philippines for my huge mistake. I feel terrible.

“Secondly, I’d like to apologize to the viewers  that I disappointed as well. Again it was an honest mistake. I don’t want to take away from this amazing night and pageant. As well as the wonderful contestants. They were all amazing.”

Harvey generated 167,000 likes and 107,000 re-twits.

It was the first time that the Miss Universe allowed online voting during the two-hour telecast. Watchers had four voting opportunities — during the swimsuit competition, during the evening-gown competition, during the final question round and after the final look.

A post in Miss Universe website stated, “The excitement of live TV was evident tonight on The Miss Universe stage with over 10 million live fan votes tabulated. Unfortunately, a live telecast means that human error can come into play. We witnessed that tonight when the wrong winner was initially announced. Our sincerest apologies to Miss Universe Colombia 2015, Ariadna Gutierrez-Arévalo, Miss Universe Philippines 2015, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, their families and fans. We congratulate Miss Universe Philippines as Miss Universe 2015.”

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.


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