Miss Universe

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Not to be confused with Mrs. Universe.
Miss Universe
Miss Universe logo.png
Logo of the Miss Universe pageant.
Motto Confidently Beautiful
Formation 1952
Type Beauty Pageant
Headquarters New York City
Official language
Paula Shugart
Affiliations William Morris Endeavor
Website www.missuniverse.com

Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by the Miss Universe Organization.[1] Miss Universe and Miss USA are among the most recognized beauty pageants.[2][3][4][5] The pageant was founded in 1952 by the California clothing company Pacific Mills, and is owned, along with Miss USA, by WME/IMG.[6]

In 1998, Miss Universe, Inc., changed its name to the The Miss Universe Organization, and moved its headquarters from Los Angeles, California, to New York City.[7]

In 1998, the logo of Miss Universe – "the woman with stars" – was created, representing the beauty and responsibility of women around the Universe.

In 2015, after Trump made statements about illegal aliens from Mexico in his presidential campaign kickoff speech, NBC decided to end their business relationship and stated that they will no longer air the pageant, or the Miss USA pageant, on their networks.[8] In September, 2015, Donald Trump bought the entire stock of the Miss Universe Organization from NBC, becoming its sole owner for three days until selling the entire stock to WME/IMG.[6]

Miss Universe is part of the Big Four international beauty pageants.[9]

The current Miss Universe is Paulina Vega of Colombia who was crowned on 25 January 2015 in Doral, USA. Traditionally, Miss Universe lives in New York City during her reign.


The title "Miss Universe" was first used by the International Pageant of Pulchritude in 1926. This contest was held annually until 1935, when the Great Depression and other events preceding World War II led to its demise.

Today's Miss Universe Pageant was founded after Yolande Betbeze, the winner of the 1951 Miss America pageant, refused to pose in a swimsuit from its major sponsor, Catalina Swimwear. The brand's manufacturer Pacific Mills withdrew its sponsorship from Miss America and set up the Miss USA and Miss Universe contests. The first Miss Universe Pageant was held in Long Beach, California in 1952. It was won by Armi Kuusela from Finland, who gave up her title, though not officially, to get married, shortly before her year was completed.[10] Until 1958, the Miss Universe title, like that of Miss America, was dated by the year following the contest, so at the time Ms. Kuusela's title was Miss Universe 1953.

Since its founding by Pacific Mills, the pageant has been organized and conducted by the Miss Universe Organization. Eventually Pacific Mills and its subsidiaries were acquired by the Kayser-Roth Corporation, which was in turn acquired by Gulf and Western Industries. Donald Trump acquired the pageant in 1996.[11]

The pageant was first televised in 1955. CBS began broadcasting the combined Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants in 1960, and as separate contests in 1965. John Charles Daly hosted the pageant from 1955 to 1966, Bob Barker from 1967 to 1987, Alan Thicke in 1988, John Forsythe in 1989, Dick Clark from 1990 to 1993, and Bob Goen from 1994 to 1996. In 2003, NBC outbid the other networks for the TV rights.[12] From 2003 to 2014, the pageant was broadcast in the US on NBC. NBC and Univision dropped the pageant in 2015 due to derogatory comments made by Trump about illegal immigrants from Mexico.[8]


Up until September 2015, the Miss Universe Organization was a joint venture between NBC and Donald Trump. The company has run the contest since 2002.[1] Following Trump's controversial comments about illegal immigrants during his 2016 Presidential announcement speech, NBC cancelled all business relationships with the Miss Universe Organization and with Trump .[13] In September 2015, Trump bought out NBC's 50% stake in the organization making him the company's sole owner, which he held for three days before selling the entire pageant to WME/IMG.[14] The current president of the Miss Universe Organization is Paula Shugart.[15]

Official song[edit]

Miss Universe's historical song, "You are my star", was the official song for the pageant from 1987 to 1995. It was sung by the "Little Sisters", a group of young children from the host country.[16]

Competition formats[edit]

During the early years of the pageant, the delegates who made the first cut were announced after the preliminary competition. From 1965 to the present day, the semifinalists were not announced until the night of the main event. The semifinalists once again competed in evening gown and swimsuit and five finalists were announced. An interview portion was introduced in 1960 to decide the runners-up and the winner.

From 1959 to 1964 there were slight format changes. From 1959 through 1963 there was no cut to reach the five finalists. The runners-up and winner were called from the assembled 15 semifinalists. In 1965 the pageant returned to the original format of a cut to five finalists, and remained so until 1989. In 1969 a final question was posed to the last five contestants. The final question was an on-and-off feature of the pageant. In 1990 it had taken root, and with every pageant since the final contestants have had to answer a final question. In 1990 the pageant implemented major changes in the competition itself. Instead of five finalists, the field was reduced from ten semifinalists to six. Each contestant then randomly selected a judge and answered the question posed by the judge. After that, the field was narrowed down further to a final three. In 1998, the number of finalists was reduced to five, although there still was a cut to a final three. This continued until 2001, when the final five format was reinstated.

In the year 2000, the interview portion of the semifinal was dropped, and the contestants competed only in swimsuits and evening gowns, as in the early years of the pageant.[citation needed] In 2003, the number of semifinalists was increased to fifteen, with cuts made to ten, and then to five contestants. The final question varied, each coming from the final delegates themselves and the current Miss Universe.[citation needed] In 2006, twenty semifinalists were selected for the swimsuit competition, ten of whom went on to the evening gown competition. The five who passed that stage competed in an interview round, after which the runners-up and winner were announced. The 2007 contest followed a similar format, with fifteen contestants competing in the swimsuit stage.[citation needed] In 2011, for the first time, one of the sixteen semifinalists was selected exclusively by TV viewers via online voting.[citation needed] In the 2014 contest held in January 2015, a final question was chosen from thousands submitted by Facebook.[17]

Contestant selection[edit]

Local organizations that wish to select the Miss Universe contestant for their countries must submit bids to the Miss Universe Organization for that right. Occasionally, the traditional license holder for a particular country may lose its bid, as has happened in Italy, Denmark, France, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, and more.

Usually a country's candidate selection involves pageants in major cities, whose winners compete in a national pageant, but there are exceptions. For example, from 2000 to 2004, Australian delegates were chosen by a modeling agency. Although such "castings" are generally discouraged by the Miss Universe Organization, Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins was chosen to be Miss Universe in 2004. When Australia resumed its national pageant, Michelle Guy became Miss Universe Australia 2005.

Some of the most successful national pageants in the last decade have been Venezuela, USA, Puerto Rico, France, Philippines which command consistently high interest and television ratings in their respective countries.[18] Recent arrivals in the pageant include Slovenia (2001), China and Albania (2002), Vietnam, Georgia and Ethiopia (2004), Latvia (2005), Kazakhstan (2006), Tanzania (2007), Kosovo (2008), Gabon and Lithuania (2012) alongside Azerbaijan (2013); there have also been efforts to revive strong national pageants in South Africa, Canada, Spain, Japan and Latin America (especially Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil). Prior powerhouses are Finland, Germany and Sweden. England is the most successful nonwinning country with nine top-five positions. The current powerhouses that often make the semi-finals are: USA, Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Brazil, Ukraine, France, and Australia.

The organization makes continual efforts to expand the pageant, but the participation of some countries such as Algeria has proven difficult due to cultural barriers to the swimsuit competition, while others such as Armenia, Mozambique, and Nepal have balked at sending representatives due to the cost. As of 2014, only four countries have been present at every Miss Universe since its inception in 1952: Canada, France, Germany (East and West up to 1990), and the USA. Many European countries allow 17-year-old contestants to compete in their pageants, while Miss Universe's minimum age is 18, so national titleholders often have to be replaced by their runners-up. Miss Universe had previously prohibited transsexual applicants and age fabrication, but beginning in 2012, transgender women were allowed to compete, as long as they win their national pageants.[19]

Main pageant[edit]

The main Miss Universe Pageant is held over a two-week period in May and July. In the 1970s through the 1990s, the pageant was a month long. This allowed time for rehearsals, appearances, and the preliminary competition, with the winner being crowned by the previous year's titleholder during the final competition.

According to the organizers, the Miss Universe contest is more than a beauty pageant: women aspiring to become Miss Universe must be intelligent, well-mannered, and cultured[need quotation to verify]. Often a candidate has lost because she did not have a good answer during the question responses rounds; although this section of competition has held less importance during recent pageants than it did in the twentieth century. Delegates also participate in swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

Currently, the final placement of the finalists is determined by a ranked vote, where each judge ranks each of the final three/five candidates, with the contestant posting the lowest cumulative score (thus often, but not necessarily always, the contestant with the most number one votes) becoming the winner. If there is a tie, the higher semifinal scores become decisive.

The winner is assigned a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, going overseas to spread messages about the control of diseases, peace, and public awareness of AIDS. Since Donald Trump took over the pageant, the winner has been given the use of a Trump Place apartment in New York City during her reign.[20] If the winner, for any reason, cannot fulfill her duties as Miss Universe, the 1st runner-up takes over.

Aside from the main winner and her runners-up, special awards are also given to the winners of the best National Costume, Miss Photogenic, and Miss Congeniality. The Miss Congeniality award is chosen by the delegates themselves. In recent years, Miss Photogenic has been chosen by popular internet vote (the winner used to be chosen by media personnel covering the event).

Final judgment[edit]

The competition for the Miss Universe title has seen many changes, although there have been several constants throughout its history. All the contestants compete in a preliminary round of judging (nowadays called the "Presentation Show") where the field is narrowed to a select number of semifinalists. This number has fluctuated over the years. The first Miss Universe pageant had ten semifinalists. For the next two years, the number of semifinalists grew to 16. In 1955, the number dropped to a stable 15, which remained through 1970. In 1971, the number was reduced to 12. That number was further reduced to 10 in 1984. This lasted until 2003, when the number of 15 was reinstated. In 2006, there were 20 semifinalists, the highest number ever. In 2007, the organization announced the Top 15 system would be back, which was also used in 2008 until 2010. In 2011, the system went through another change. Since then, are 16 semifinalists, 15 chosen by judges and one chosen by most popular by Internet votes.

In the early years, the contestants were judged in swimsuit and evening gown only. In later years, the contestants also competed in a preliminary interview round in a one-on-one meeting with each individual judge.


The Miss Universe crown used from 2002–2007 was designed by Mikimoto, the official jewelry sponsor of the Miss Universe Organization, and depicted the phoenix rising, signifying status, power and beauty. The crown has 500 diamonds of almost 30 carats (6.0 g), 120 South Sea and Akoya pearls, ranging in size from 3 to 18 mm diameter and is valued at $250,000.[citation needed] The Crown was designed for the pageant on Mikimoto Pearl Island in Japan with the Mikimoto crown and tiara being first used for Miss Universe 2002.[21]

The winner of the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant, which was broadcast from the Crown Convention Center in Nha Trang, Vietnam was crowned with the masterpiece which was designed by Rosalina Lydster of Jewelry by Rosalina and Ms. Dang Thi Kim Lien of CAO Fine Jewelry. The crown, valued at $120,000, is made of 18K white and yellow gold. It is composed of over 1,000 precious stones; including 555 white diamonds (30 carats), 375 cognac diamonds (14 carats), 10 smoky quartz crystals (20 carats) and 19 morganite gemstones (60 carats). The colors of the jewels chosen for the crown have great significance. The yellow luster of the gold represents the prosperous thriving economy in Vietnam. White, light pink and cognac are the main hues in the crown which represent inspiration and feeling. Each piece of the crown was designed to represent an important attribute of the Miss Universe Pageant. The curves of inlaid precious stones represent the strong development and potential of each country. The image of the crane (Lac Bird) symbolizes Vietnamese spirit and culture. The image of the heart represents unified breath, rhythm and vision, which are powerful internal forces that stress faith, hope and unity.

From 2009–2013, Diamond Nexus Labs made the Miss Universe crown. The crown is set with 1,371 gemstones, weighing a total of 416.09 carats (83.218 g). It contains 544.31 grams of 14k and 18k white gold as well as platinum.[citation needed] The crown features synthetic rubies to represent Miss Universe's HIV/AIDS education and awareness platform. Diamond Nexus Labs is the first ever eco-friendly Official Jeweler of Miss Universe and was selected as part of NBC Universal's "Green is Universal" initiative.[22][23]

Recent titleholders[edit]

Year Country Miss Universe National Title Location Number of Entrants
2014  Colombia Paulina Vega Miss Colombia Doral, USA 88
2013  Venezuela Gabriela Isler Miss Venezuela Moscow, Russia 86
2012  USA Olivia Culpo Miss USA Las Vegas, USA 89
2011  Angola Leila Lopes Miss Angola São Paulo, Brazil 89
2010  Mexico Ximena Navarrete Nuestra Belleza México Las Vegas, USA 83

Winners gallery[edit]

By number of wins[edit]

Country Titles Winning Years
 USA 8 1954, 1956, 1960, 1967, 1980, 1995, 1997, 2012
 Venezuela 7 1979, 1981, 1986, 1996, 2008, 2009, 2013
 Puerto Rico 5 1970, 1985, 1993, 2001, 2006
 Sweden 3 1955, 1966, 1984
 Colombia 2 1958, 2014
 Mexico 1991, 2010
 Japan 1959, 2007
 Canada 1982, 2005
 Australia 1972, 2004
 India 1994, 2000
 Trinidad and Tobago 1977, 1998
 Thailand 1965, 1988
 Finland 1952, 1975
 Philippines 1969, 1973
 Brazil 1963, 1968
 Angola 1 2011
 Dominican Republic 2003
 Panama 2002
 Russia 2002 (dethroned)
 Botswana 1999
 Namibia 1992
 Norway 1990
 Netherlands 1989
 Chile 1987
 New Zealand 1983
 South Africa 1978
 Israel 1976
 Spain 1974
 Lebanon 1971
 Greece 1964
 Argentina 1962
 Germany 1961
 Peru 1957
 France 1953


Top 15 countries by tally[edit]

Rank Country Miss Universe 1st Runner-Up 2nd Runner-Up 3rd Runner-Up 4th Runner-Up Semifinalists Total
1  USA 8 9 6 1[26] 5 29 58
2  Venezuela 7 6 6 4 2 15 41
3  Puerto Rico 5[27] 1[28] 2 1 3 8 20
4  Sweden 3 1 2 3 4 16 29
5  Brazil 2 5 1 2 5 18 33
6  Colombia 2 4 2 3 2 18 31
7  Finland 2 3 5 1 1 7 19
8  Philippines 2 2 0 5 2 8 19
9  Australia 2 1 3 2[29] 2 7 17
10  Japan 2[30] 1[27] 1 2 3 9 18
11  India 2 1 1 1 1[31] 16 22
12  Canada 2


1 1 1 0 11 16
13  Mexico 2 0 1 2 2 10 17
14  Trinidad & Tobago 2 0 1 0 1 4 8
15  Thailand 2 0 1 0 0 4 7

Number of titles by continental region[edit]

Continent Titles Countries/Territories
Americas 35 USA (8), Venezuela (7), Puerto Rico (5), Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Trinidad & Tobago and Brazil (2), Dominican Republic, Panama, Chile, Argentina and Peru (1)
Europe 11 Sweden (3), Finland (2), Norway, Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Germany, France, and Russia (1)
Asia 10 Japan (2), India (2), Thailand (2), and Philippines (2), Lebanon and Israel (1)
Africa 4 South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola (1)
Oceania 3 Australia (2), New Zealand (1)
  • Russia was originally crowned Miss Universe 2002 but was dethroned 4 months into her reign. Panama, who was originally the 1st Runner-Up, assumed the title.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Natalie Tadena (July 2, 2015).Donald Trump’s Miss USA Pageant Lands on Reelz Cable Channel. Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ D’Souza, Eugene (24 August 2009). "Miss Immo Cowan is Miss Universe 2009". Daijiworld Media Network. Daijiworld. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Sylvia Toh Paik Choo (24 June 2008). "MISS Singapore Universe". Archived from the original on 2008-06-28. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Miss Universe on August 23". Timesofmalta.com. Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Miss Venezuela Stefania Fernandez is Miss Universe 2009
  6. ^ a b http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/business/media/trump-sells-miss-universe-organization-to-wme-img-talent-agency.html?_r=1
  7. ^ Foreman, Jonathan (January 18, 1999). "Mistress of the Universe". New York Post. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Stanhope, Kate (2015-06-29). "NBC Cuts Ties With Donald Trump Over "Derogatory Statements," Pulls Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-06-30. 
  9. ^ Riza Ornos (30 September 2013). "Philippines, Brazil And Venezuela: Three Countries To Win The Big Four International Beauty Pageants". au.ibtimes.com. International Business Times. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  10. ^ FUNFARE by Ricky Lo (June 28, 2006). "A misty-eyed look at Armi Kuusela, the 1st Miss Universe". philstar.com. The Philippine Star. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ Prestigious Beauty Pageant (November 18, 2013). "Four Big Ships Dominate International Beauty Pageants". Prestigious Beauty Pageants. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  12. ^ Jim Rutenberg (June 22, 2002). "Three Beauty Pageants Leaving CBS for NBC". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ "NBCUniversal cuts ties with Donald Trump". CNN Money. June 29, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  14. ^ http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-sells-miss-universe-img-2015-9
  15. ^ "PAULA M. SHUGART". Miss Universe. Miss Universe Organization. Retrieved June 29, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Miss Universe 1988 Evening Gown Competition". YouTube. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Yahr, Emily (26 January 2015). "Miss Universe Pageant makes always-awkward Q&A segment worse with viewer questions". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Miss Venezuela Parades Online". PR Newswire. September 18, 2002. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2010. The Miss Venezuela broadcast, which on average captures a whopping 74% of the Venezuelan television market share for Venevision, will also be available to users on demand. 
  19. ^ Dillon, Nancy (10 April 2012). "Transgender contestants can compete in Miss Universe". Daily News (New York). 
  20. ^ Felicia R. Lee (October 10, 2007). "Three Crowns Sharing One Apartment". nytimes.com (The New York Times). Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Mikimoto History Timeline". mikimotoamerica.com. Archived from the original on August 1, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Connection to MISS UNIVERSE®". diamondnexus.com. 
  23. ^ "Diamond Nexus Labs Announced as The Official Jewelry of The Miss Universe Organization". redorbit.com (redOrbit). February 3, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  24. ^ Pageantopolis - Miss Universe
  25. ^ Miss Universe Organization. "Past Miss Universe Winners". missuniverse.com. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  26. ^ "Unkissed Colombia girl is new Miss Universe". The Miami News. Associated Press. July 25, 1958. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  27. ^ a b "Puerto Rico wins, faints". The Age (Melbourne). July 24, 2006. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  28. ^ a b "Canada won the crown". El Universal. May 31, 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  29. ^ "Miss Venezuela, Stefania Fernandez, Crowned Miss Universe". redorbit.com. PR Newswire. August 23, 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  30. ^ "RP bet fails to advance to Top 15 in Miss Universe 2007". business.inquirer.net. Philippine Daily Inquirer. May 29, 2007. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Puerto Rican beauty wins Miss Universe crown". Associated Press. May 12, 2001. Retrieved 10 November 2010. In second place was Miss Greece, 22-year-old Evelina Papantoniou and in third place was Miss USA, 24-year-old Kandace Krueger. Miss Venezuela, 18-year-old Eva Ekvall was third runner-up and Miss India, 22-year-old Celina Jaitley was named fourth runner-up. The five semifinalists who were earlier eliminated in the pageant were Miss Spain, Eva Siso Casals; Miss Nigeria, Agbani Darego... 

External links[edit]