Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday, December 22, 2015, after host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arévalo the winner in a monumental gaffe that left both spectators and contestants in shock. The 64th edition of the pageant, broadcast live on Fox at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada, sparked such outrage among Colombian supporters that they turned on fellow spectators from the Philippines, who retaliated with the verve of football roughs.
Filipino-German actress Wurtzbach, 26, born in Stuttgart and raised in Cagayan de Oro, was resigned to her runner-up position as Colombian Arevalo, 21, basked in Miss Universe glory, including the royal walk, for about three minutes, before Harvey realized his gaffe and explained it to the audience. After voicing his apology onstage coupled with a long, awkward moment among the spotlighted participants, Harvey expressed his regret on Twitter to the bets from Colombia and the Philippines.
According to AsiaOne, Miss Universe Singapore national director Nuraliza Osman, 38, was an eyewitness to the confusion and chaos after Harvey’s gaffe, as Colombian and Filipino supporters found themselves in contention. Plastic bottles and ice flew around, reportedly launched from the second floor to the first, as a fight broke out between disgruntled sides. In an interview after the pageant, Osman related what happened as she waited for her friend, Miss Universe Singapore Lisa Marie White.
“Each contingent was cheering for their own country. Then, one man pushed another and the latter retaliated, leading to a fight. A lady fell down in the midst of the madness. That’s when I grabbed Lisa’s mother and her pregnant friend and we hurried away.”
As emotions ran amok, Miss Universe Germany Sarah Lorraine Riek reportedly said she was unhappy with the victory of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach. According to Inquirer, Riek relented and issued an apology Tuesday, December 22, on her Facebook page for her off-the-cuff gaffe.
“Miss Universe Germany Sarah-Lorraine feels sorry for her colleague and friend Miss Colombia. This must have been the worst nightmare. She never intended to offend Miss Philippines in any way. She feels sorry for both girls. As well as for Pia Miss Philippines that she didn’t have her real crowning moment.”
Steve Harvey reportedly approached new Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and apologized for his gaffe. As if he hadn’t blundered enough, Harvey later misspelled the names of Philippines and Colombia as “Philippians” and “Columbia” in an apology on Twitter. He subsequently deleted the error, but not before it was retweeted more than 30,000 times.
According to BBC, the people of Colombia did not take too well to the Miss Universe gaffe.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos followed the Miss Universe pageant, and had something to say about it on Twitter prior to the gaffe.
“Colombians are the most beautiful in the world! Congratulations @gutierrezary miss universe 2016!!!! I am proud!”
Santos’ political enemy, ex-President Alvaro Uribe, also watching the Miss Universe competition right up to the shocking gaffe, rallied behind his country’s beauty representative.
“All our support to our Queen, her dignity is that of the Colombian woman, the mistreatment is to all the citizens.”
The massive support for Arévalo by her countrymen, is in clear evidence on social media. The memes range from disbelief to anger and suggestions of a publicity stunt. Still, Colombia almost got back-to-back Miss Universe titles after Colombian Paulina Vega, 22, won in 2014. Unfortunately for President Santos, who’d sent a prematurely-celebrating tweet, he was forced to take it back after realizing the gaffe.
“For us you’ll always be our Miss Universe. We feel very proud.”
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]