Miss Universe 2019: The best bets list

Voltaire E. Tayag

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Miss Universe 2019: The best bets list
Rappler contributor Voltaire Tayag give his take on this year's pageant

The much anticipated 2019 Miss Universe Preliminary and National Costume Competitions was live streamed on December 7, 2019. In a very abbreviated pageant schedule this year, the candidates only had a little over a week of activities before they got to strut in their swimsuits and rock their frocks at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia.

Although the Miss Universe pageant struggled to find a host city, what is always certain is that the best candidates are sent to this beauty pageant. This is going to be one very tough year. This edition might just end with surprising results.

Since 2016, the Miss Universe Organization has been conducting the preliminary closed door interviews with candidates prior to the preliminary swimsuit and evening gown competitions. This significantly changes the outcome of the eventual Top 20 semifinalists.

Having met all the women, the judges would have already developed favorites or, at least, like certain candidates more than others. Naturally, if a judge really likes a candidate’s personality, she may end up scoring them more favorably during the other competitions. This is why a lot of the TV audience are befuddled over why certain candidates who are striking do not make the cut. However, some “unconventional” beauties manage to get into the Top 20. 

The preference towards women empowerment, advocacies, and candidates who have lots of personality and are well spoken will continue. It is quite evident in the composition of the judging panel – all very accomplished women. Typically, these women would gravitate towards the same types of women.

Based on the difficulty in securing a host city and sponsorships, the MUO needs to find a happy mix in finding the perfect, deserving candidate on the night based on performance. However, the winner should also be able to bring in lots of interest and business for the company. It’s biggest market are the Latinos and Asians. However, with the return of the Miss Universe pageant in Telemundo after 5 long years, will they be inclined to crown a Latina this year? 

Of course, these are all the conspiracy theories that many pageant observers love to discuss. The Preliminary and National Costume Competition was hosted by no other than Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray along with Nick Teplitz of the Miss Universe Organization. 

This is the second time in 4 years that the preliminary stage is significantly smaller than the usual arena used in all other years. Only a very small group of family, friends and supporters were at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis to witness the event. Unfortunately for many of the candidates, the stage had some slippery spots which caused several women to fall, wobble, or stumble. 

Candidates with sash factor. If you are as stunning as the following women, performed adequately during the preliminaries and have a strong sash factor (which means that your country has historically done well in the pageant), then you are almost an assured spot in the Top 20.

  • Philippines, Gazini Ganados, 23 
  • Colombia, Gabriela Tafur Nader, 24  
  • France, Maeva Coucke, 25 
  • Mexico, Sofia Aragon, 25 
  • Albania, Cindy Marina, 21 
  • Thailand, Fahsai Paweensuda Drouin, 26
  • Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson, 24 
  • India, Vartika Singh, 26 
  • Brazil, Julia Horta, 25  

Unexpected countries with strong candidates. These amazing young women will have to work a bit extra in order to overcome a weak sash factor (which means that historically, the country has not won or had very few placements). 

  • Peru, Kelin Rivera, 26 
  • Bangladesh, Shirin Akther, 20
  • Singapore, Mohanaprabha Selvam, 24 
  • Kenya, Stacy Michuki, 18 
  • Ireland, Fionnghuala O’Reilly, 26 
  • Vietnam, Thuy Hoang, 27 
  • Spain, Natalie Ortega, 20 
  • Chile, Geraldine Gonzalez, 20 
  • Panama, Mehr Eliezer, 22 

Other candidates to look out for are Haiti, Japan, and Slovak Republic.

Strong sash candidates. The following candidates may make it into the Top 20 largely due to their sash factor. Although these women are not as strong as their predecessors, they might be able to pull a surprise and manage to squeeze into the semifinals. But if they were representing other countries, making it into the semifinals would be a far more difficult task.

  • USA, Cheslie Kryst, 28 
  • Indonesia, Frederika Cull, 20
  • Venezuela, Thalia Olvino, 20
  • South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi, 26 

Depending on how heavily their closed door interviews influenced the rest of the competition, based on their performances and what I have seen, these would be my Top 5 choices.

  • Philippines
  • Colombia
  • France
  • India
  • Thailand

Will history repeat itself with the Philippines and Colombia as the Top 2? Will Gazini Ganados and Catriona Gray make history and be the country to achieve a back to back victory? Will the Asians and Latinas dominate the semifinalists? Will India return to become a powerhouse once more? Will a relatively unknown country emerge from nowhere and take it all? 

The Miss Universe 2019 Finals will be telecast live in Manila on December 9 at 8:00 am from the Tyler Perry Studios, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Our very own, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, will be reliquinshing her title to the new queen who will be wearing the new Mouwad Miss Universe crown. – Rappler.com 


Voltaire has 10 years experience in the fashion industry. He previously worked with a luxury clothing and accessories brand in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated magna cum laude from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, major in Fashion Design. He also holds a BS in Applied Economics and BS in Marketing from DLSU. He is now doing real estate but finds ample spare time to pursue his passions.







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