Was Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere’s final answer misinterpreted?

Was Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere’s final answer misinterpreted?

Alecs Ongcal

French-speaking viewers take to social media after Iris's final Q&A, saying her answer was not translated correctly

MANILA, Philippines – France’s Iris Mittenaere won Miss Universe 2016 on Monday, January 30, after answering two questions – first as one of the Top 6 candidates and second as one of the Top 3.

However, French-speaking viewers immediately took to social media after Iris’s Top 3 answer, saying that she was misinterpreted by her translator.

Before the winner was announced, the Top 3 candidates were all asked: “Name something, over the course of your life, that you failed at and tell us what you learned from that experience.”

According to her interpreter, Iris answered: “I’ve failed several times in my life, so I thought that I failed the first time that I went out on a casting, because my name wasn’t on the list. The very next day, I found that I was in a new book. So I think that when you fail, you have to be elevated, you have to try again, and keep going. If tonight, I’m not one of the winners, I will still have the great honor of being one of the 3 finalists, so I think that I have failed before, but I think this is a great first opportunity.” 

Celebrity siblings Solenn and Erwan Heussaff, who are half-French, were among those who pointed out the mistake on Twitter, with Erwan later posting his own translation of Iris’ answer. He said Iris mentioned “medical school,” not “casting.”

Iris has been pursuing a degree in dental surgery for the past 5 years, according to the Miss Universe website

Iris said, according to Erwan: “I thought I had failed my first year in medical school because my name wasn’t on the passing list. So, the very same day, I went to buy a new set of medical books to keep on studying.” 


At the winner’s press conference, Iris was asked if her interpreter didn’t translate her answer correctly. She was asked to clarify her answer, as she was speaking English while responding to questions from journalists.

After saying that she thought her interpreter was very good, Iris said: “When I was in my first year of medicine, the first time [I took the test], I didn’t [pass] my first year, and I cried a lot, and… I have now to do it again… After I saw I was not on the list, I bought another book for medicine. And immediately – only days [after] – I studied, and they called me one week after this and they said, ‘There is a mistake. Actually you have your first year of medicine. This is not a joke. And you succeeded.’ And I was so proud. This is the thing that I am most proud of in my life.” 

Top 6 question

Before moving on to the Top 3, Iris also answered a question as one of the Top 6 finalists. 

Iris was asked, “Given today’s worldwide refugee crisis, do countries have an obligation to accept refugees, or do they have a right to close their borders?”

She answered, “The country should have the right to open or close their borders. Throughout the world, people can choose to have the borders open or closed. In Europe we have open borders. In France we want to have the most globalization that we can, we want to have the biggest exchange of people that we can. Maybe someday that will change, but now we have open borders. Having open borders allows us to travel more through the world, and to find out more about what’s out there in the world.”

The Miss Universe 2016 coronation night was held at the Mall of Asia Arena, where the Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach crowned her successor. – Rappler.com

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