From beautiful to breathtakingly ugly in minutes, the Miss Universe contest in Las Vegas had audiences around the world stunned.
And that doesn’t even begin to describe the heartbreak of a young Colombian woman who was given the Miss Universe crown only to be stripped of it before she knew it.
Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was the real winner but pageant host Steve Harvey mistakenly proclaimed Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo the new Miss Universe.
Arevalo’s reign lasted only a few minutes as Harvey realized he misread his cue cards.
Harvey said it was his mistake and that he would take responsibility for not reading the card correctly, AP reports.
A mystified Wurtzbach appeared stunned as she walked to the front of the stage alongside the crown-wearing Arevalo before last year’s Miss Universe from Colombia removed the crown and placed it on Wurtzbach’s head instead just before the program abruptly ended.
In the confused aftermath, Gutierrez sobbed before other contestants who tried to console her.
Reaction in the Philippines was mixed, with some applauding Wurtzbach’s last-minute victory and others saying it was all unfair to Miss Colombia, according to reports.
The pageant that pits international beauties against one another returned to Las Vegas on Sunday to crown a winner on a new network, with a new Spanish-language broadcaster and a new pageant owner.
The women, between ages 19 and 27, represented 83 countries.
For the first time, viewers at home had the change to weigh in, with their votes being tallied in addition to four in-person celebrity judges.
The pre-pageant had its own share of controversy.
NBCUniversal and Dionald Trump co-owned the Miss Universe Organization until earlier this year when the real estate developer offended Hispanics in June when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his Republican presidential run.
That led Spanish-language network Univision to pull out of the broadcast for what would have been the first of five years airing the pageants and NBC to cut business ties with Trump.
The former star of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show sued both companies, settling with NBC in September, which included buying the network’s stake in the pageants.
That same month, Trump sold the organization that includes the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants to entertainment company WME-IMG.
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