Miss France, Iris Mittenaere is the 2016 Miss Universe. She bested 85 other contestants. This is only the second time that a representative from France wins the coveted Miss Universe crown. The first winner was Christiane Martel, who won the title in 1953 on the second year of the annual beauty pageant’s staging. This year’s host is the Philippines, the home country of the outgoing Miss Universe, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
The Miss Universe, a beauty pageant held annually and run by the Miss Universe Organization was established by Pacific Knitting Mills on June 28, 1952. The company was based in California. The Miss Universe pageant is held in over 190 countries around the world. The first ever winner of the pageant was Armi Helena Kuusela from Finland. While embarking on a world tour, her heart was captured by a Filipino businessman, Virgilio Hilario and after a whirlwind courtship, she gave up her crown to get married on May 4, 1953.
The pageant had a brief association with former media mogul and now the current U.S President, Donald Trump. He was the former pageant co-owner. NBC ended their business relationship with Trump when he made derogatory remarks about the Mexican immigrants during his presidential campaign. In retaliation, Trump bought all the broadcast station’s shares of the Miss Universe Organization, only to sell them to the WME/IMG talent agency three days later.
The Philippines had three Miss Universe winners. The first was Gloria Diaz, who won it in 1969. Four years later, the crown was won by Margarita Moran. It took over four decades before the Philippines had another Miss Universe in Pia Wurtzbach, who won it in 2015.
The pageant in Manila
In the pageant proceedings on Monday, January 30 (Phil time), there was less drama but humor was there, with the faux pas that Steve Harvey made in 2015 that turned into a running joke. Pia Wurtzbach thanked Steve Harvey for making her the most popular Miss Universe and in return Steve Harvey thanked her as well for making him the most popular host because of his error. In 2015 he first announced that Miss Colombia was the one who won the title, only to take it back a few seconds later to announce that it was Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach who actually won.
Judges for this year’s event were former Miss Universe winners Dayanara Torres (1993), Sushmita Sen (1994) and Leila Lopes (2011), Mickey Boardman, Cynthia Bailey and Francine LeFrak. Flo Rida and Boyz II Men provided the musical numbers for the pageant. Back stage host was Ashley Graham.
From the 86 contestants, the final 13 were Kenya, Indonesia, U.S.A., Mexico, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Philippines, Canada, Brazil, France, Haiti and Thailand. Miss Myanmar won the award for Best National Costume. When the list was narrowed down to six, Kenya, Colombia, Philippines, France, Haiti and Thailand were the contenders. In the final three, crowd favorites Colombia, Haiti and France were selected.
Before the standings of the final three were announced, Pia Wurtzbach presented Steve Harvey a pair of reading glasses, purportedly to ensure that the host would not make a mistake in reading the winners. Proclaimed third runner up was Miss Colombia Andrea Tovar. Named second runner up was Miss Haiti Raquel Pelissier and crowned Miss Universe 2016 was Iris Mittenaere.
The new Miss Universe
Iris Mittenaere of France is 24 years old and a dentistry student. She also loves to cook. She was born in Lille and her advocacy is oral and dental hygiene around the globe. Aside from cooking, she’s a travel buff and a sports fanatic.
She impressed judges in the Q&A portion by praising her country for the refugee population and open borders. It’s a hot topic, especially in the face of several countries turning away refugees and immigrants.