Host Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe 2015 pageant on Sunday night – and the crowd watched in heartbreak and horror as the crown had to be removed from the head of one contestant and placed on another on live television.
Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez wiped away tears of joy as the $30,000 blue diamond and topaz crown was placed upon her head and she was named Miss Universe 2015, winning the title for her country for the second year in a row. But her glory only lasted for two minutes.
Just as Gutierrez was blowing kisses and waving to her adoring fans she was informed that it was actually Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach who had won the crown instead.
Steve Harvey strolled up on stage, the shame already evident on his face, when he told the crowd ‘Folks, I have to apologize.’ ‘The first runner-up is Colombia,’ he announced.
Miss Philippines stared wide-eyed at the audience, her lip quivering as Miss USA whispered into her ear and she realized what exactly those words meant. ‘Miss Universe 2015,’ Harvey then dramatically clarified, ‘Is Miss Philippines.’
Wurtzbach joined Gutierrez on stage as they both stared into the audience in shock. Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega gave her fellow countrywoman a comforting pat on the back.
‘Folks let me take control of this,’ Harvey told the sea of boos and cheers. ‘This is exactly what’s on the card,’ he then said, displaying the results on the camera.
‘I will take responsibility for this, it was my mistake,’ he continued. ‘I can show it to your right here, the first runner-up is Colombia. It’s my mistake, still a great night. Please don’t hold it against the ladies.’ And then came for the heartbreaking moment when Miss Colombia had to bend down, allowing Vega to remove the crown and place it on Miss Philippines head instead.
The telecast then came to an abrupt stop, cutting without credits or allowing Miss Philippines to take her first walk as Miss Universe. Harvey immediately tweeted after the show, spelling both women’s countries wrong as he tweeted: ‘I want to apologize emphatically to Miss Philippians and Miss Columbia.
He then deleted the tweet and re-wrote it, saying he felt terrible and apologized ‘wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines’ for his ‘huge mistake’. ‘Secondly, I’d like to apologize to the viewers at that I disappointed as well,’ he wrote in a separate tweet. ‘Again it was an honest mistake.’
‘This was a terribly honest human mistake and I am so regretful.’ ‘I don’t want to take away from this amazing night and pageant. As well as the wonderful contestants. They were all amazing,’ he continued to tweet, before once again ’emphatically’ apologizing to Gutierrez and Wurtzbach. Social media is heavily criticizing Harvey, but he has found an unlikely ally already in Harry Styles.
‘Stop sending hate to Steve. At least he apologized and admitted that he made a MISTAKE. Stop being so immature,’ tweeted the One Direction singer. Other Twitter users were less understanding. A meme quickly began spreading through the social media hub featuring Harvey’s head superimposed over Justin Bieber’s body with the caption: ‘Is it too late now to say sorry?’ Bieber himself later shared the posting on his Instagram account, writing: ‘It’s so sad but this is too funny had to post no disrespect.’
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who until recently co-owned the Miss Universe pageant with NBCUniversal, also weighed in on the embarrassing snafu. ‘Very sad what happened last night at the Miss Universe Pageant. I sold it 6 month ago for a record price. This would never have happened!’ he tweeted early Monday morning.
Earlier on Sunday evening, however, the outspoken GOP frontrunner praised the new owner of Miss Universal, the global talent management company IMG, as ‘great people, great new owner,’ and urged his Twitter followers to ‘tune in.’ The Miss Universe organization released a statement following Harvey’s mix-up.
‘The excitement of live TV was evident tonight on the Miss Universe stage with over 10 million live fan votes tabulated,’ the organization said in a statement posted on its Twitter account. ‘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, Miss Universe Philippines, their families and fans.’ ‘We congratulate Miss Universe Philippines as Miss Universe
Miss Colombia was wiping away tears backstage when she was asked if she had a message for her fans – and she assured them she was happy. ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ she said as fellow contestants hugged and comforted her backstage in the video tweeted by the official Miss Universe twitter account. ‘I’m happy for all I did, I’m so happy. Thank you for voting for me.’ Wurtzbach called the moment ‘very 2015’ in a video released by the pageant.
‘It’s a very…non-traditional crowning moment,’ she said, struggling to find the right words and clearly still in complete shock as Jordan gave her a comforting hug backstage. Wurtzbach competed in the Miss Philippines pageant for three years before she won the opportunity to represent her country in the Miss Universe pageant. Harvey’s mistake was the final twist in the three-hour pageant that sometimes felt more like a reality show.
The host revealed at the beginning of the event that for the first time in Miss Universe history the audience would have a voice, their real-time votes counted with the scores of the judges, actress Nicey Nash, blogger Perez Hilton, former Miss USA Olivia Culpo and football player Emmitt Smith. But it wasn’t until Harvey read the name of the top three that he shared that there was actually be one more secret judge. Or 77 of them to be exact, specifically the very women they had just spent the last three weeks in Vegas with – who now stood behind them.
‘Sure hope you’ve been nice for the past three weeks,’ Harvey said. The pageant began with the beloved national costume competition, where there were more feathers than a Victoria’s Secret fashion show as the women came out in extravagant looks to represent their countries.
Miss Austria honored Conchita Wurst, the pop star and drag queen who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 for the country, even drawing Thomas Neuwirth’s famous beard onto her face. Miss Spain dressed as Don Quixote, the title character in Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes’ famous novel, and Miss Thailand dressed as an open air Tuk Tuk cab to honor her country’s chosen mode of transportation. And it was revealed Miss France had changed her costume to create a statement following the Paris attacks, covering her body in silver peace signs that glittered on her body.
Miss USA and third runner-up Olivia Jordan also put on a patriotic display, dressing as a red, white and blue bald eagle with wings that spanned eight feet in a costume designed by Adam Selman, who created Rihanna’s infamous see-through dress. In addition to the Philippines, Colombia and USA, the top 15 included women representing Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, the island of Curacao, Belgium, Venezuela, South Africa, Mexico, Thailand.
Also rounding out the group of women was Miss Australia, a Bosnian war refugee, and Miss Japan, who was the first ever biracial candidate to represent her country in the pageant. Ariana Miyamoto has a Japanese mother and an African American father who was born and raised in Japan. She revealed in her televised segment that when she was a child her friends wouldn’t hold her hand because they feared the color of her skin would rub off on them.
Miyamoto said she was inspired to compete for the pageant after a fellow biracial Japanese friend committed suicide after years of being bullied. The top 15 women walked the swimsuit competition, with Harvey joking it was the only reason men at home were glued to the television screen, before the top 10 was announced and the evening gown round began. Miss USA, Australia, Colombia, Philippines and France were then named as the top five.
The pageant then took a more serious tone as the question round began and the women were asked to discuss issues that were especially relevant in their home countries. Harvey asked Wurtzbach about the controversy in the Philippines surrounding the reopening of a US military base and asked if she believed America should have a military presence in the island country.
‘I think the US and Philippines have had a good relationship with each other,’ replied Wurtzbach, referencing the two countries’ colonial history. ‘We have their culture in our traditions up to this day and we’re very welcoming with Americans – and I don’t see a problem with that at all,’ she concluded, to major applause from the international audience that filled up the Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Miss France Flora Coquerel, who was watching a friendly soccer match between France and Germany when explosions went off outside the Stade de France stadium during the November Paris terror attacks, was asked what was the best way for government to combat the rising threat of terrorism. ‘In my opinion, to fight terrorism, first we have to know where the problems are coming from, we have to listen to the people who are committing these attacks,’ she said through an interpreter.
‘So we have to find the problem at its heart, and for us French we have to learn how to be happy and live among ourselves.’ Miss Australia Monika Radulovic was asked if she believed it was a good idea to legalize marijuana in the country. ‘Now this topic has both positives and negatives,’ she responded. ‘I believe that in certain circumstances legalizing marijuana has definite benefits, treating cancer and helping those who are really sick.’ ‘But the government should definitely weigh both options,’ she concluded.
Gutierrez was asked about the best way to handle the global drug abuse problem and responded, through an interpreter, that education needed to start at the home first. And Jordan was asked about the issue of gun control in America, with Harvey declaring it one of the most polarizing issues in the country. ‘This is an incredibly difficult issue and I think that it’s incredibly important that all individuals have the right to protect themselves and feel safe,’ she said.
‘But sometimes we need to look at the safety as a whole more than our personal safety, I think we need stronger regulation and we need to pay attention.’ After Jordan, Gutierrez and Wurtzbach were named the top three contestants, they were each asked why they should be the next Miss Universe. Jordan used her answer to make a call for women’s rights. ‘I want to work to bring equality towards men and women,’ she said. ‘It is time to step up into power, women, and I want to empower women all over the world.’
Gutierrez said she wanted to be the third woman from her country to take the Miss Universe crown because she had ‘all of the attributes that a Latin woman has’ and said she was a women ‘full of feeling’, with all the attributes a Miss Universe should have.And Wurtzbach said she wanted to use her voice to inspire young people. ‘I will use my voice to influence the youth, to use my voice to raise HIV awareness,’ she said.
‘I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart.’ There is no doubt that it will be awhile before the world forgets Wurtzbach or Guttierez’s name – and the night that made them both famous.