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On January 30, 2017, Miss Universe will hold its 65th edition at the Mall of Asia Arena. There have been hundreds of girls who have been through the dreaded Question & Answer portion. Only they know what it truly feels like to stand in front of thousands of people in the theater, millions of people watching on television, as they try to answer one question that can change their lives forever.
Here are some of the most memorable answers of past Miss Universe winners. It is essential to watch the actual footage of the pageant in order to fully appreciate how amazing these women are. In fact, the content of the answers in some are quite unconventional and risky.
Most compelling delivery
Miss Universe 2000 was held in Nicosia, Cyprus, known as the birthplace of Aphrodite. The conservative Greek Orthodox church on the island was against hosting the pageant because they believe it demeans women and is against the church's beliefs. They held a protest vigil coinciding with the Miss Universe finals.
Lara Dutta of India was the heavy favorite going into the finals and she would not disappoint. Dutta earned a score of 9.954 in the Top 5 Interview round. It is still the highest score ever received by a candidate in any of the competitions (swimsuit, evening gown, and interview). The final question for the Top 3 was well suited for Dutta's commanding presence and eloquence.
Question: "Right now, there's a protest going on right outside here calling the Miss Universe pageant disrespectful to women. Convince them that they are wrong."
Answer: "I think pageants (takes microphone from the host) – I think pageants, like the Miss Universe pageant, gives us young women a platform to foray into the fields that we want to and forge ahead. Be it entrepreneurship, be it in the armed forces, be it politics. It gives us a platform to voice our choices and opinions and makes us strong and independent that we are today."
Most confident answer
Alicia Machado of Venezuela was a favorite in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1996. She had the beauty and charisma to pull off a very confident answer (in Spanish). The content may not be as substantial as the other winners during her time, but her delivery was more than enough to secure the crown.
Question: "What do you think men can learn from women?"
Answer: "I believe they can learn very much. Because thanks to us women, the men are here in this beautiful theater, seeing this beautiful contest, and applauding me because I am a beautiful woman."
Shortest winning answer
The stunning Oxana Federova of Russia was crowned Miss Universe 2002 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, her reign was just short, just as her answer to the final Q&A. She was dethroned 4 months later as she was unable to fulfill her obligations. Regardless, many pageant fans regard her as possibly the most beautiful Miss Universe of all time.
It was the first time the Miss Universe selected a question from entries that were sent online. The question chosen was sent in from Sydney, Australia.
Question: "What makes you blush?"
Answer: "When I say the wrong things." (translated from Russian)
Funniest winning answer
In 1997, Brook Mahealani Lee of Hawaii became the 7th American to win Miss USA. Even from her Miss USA competition, Brook had spunk and wit that no other pageant contestant possessed.
Question: "If there were no rules in your life, for one day, and you could be outrageous, what would you do?"
Answer: "I would eat everything in the world. You do not understand. I would eat everything twice."
Show host George Hamilton was laughing hysterically and the crowd started cheering as she was delivering her answer.
Ironically, outgoing Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado was embroiled in a weight-related scandal during her reign. This resurfaced in the 2016 US presidential elections, popularly known to many as the "Miss Piggy" controversy.
Profound winning answer
The 1994 Miss Universe pageant in Manila crowned India's very first Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen. In her national pageant, Sushmita won over heavily favored candidate, Aishwarya Rai, who later became Miss World 1994 and a Bollywood superstar. She beat out Rai in the tie-breaker Q&A round.
Her calm demeanor and deep thoughts seemed far beyond her years as she was only 18 years old. Her profound answer to a popular pageant question became the gold standard.
Question: "What, for you, is the essence of being a woman?"
Answer: "I think being a woman, by itself, the very fact that you're a woman is a gift of God which all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother and is a woman. And a woman is the one who shares love. And who shares and shows a man what love, caring, sharing is all about. That is the essence of a woman."
Most heartfelt winning answer
Pia Wurtzbach joined Binibining Pilipinas 3 times before she got a chance to represent the Philippines in Miss Universe. All those years of hard work and training could have easily polished off Pia's authenticity and created a pageant fembot. The experience made Pia stronger and fiercer, but the struggles she experienced along the way gave her the vulnerability that was endearing. The final question felt as if it were tailor-made for someone who dreamed and worked so hard to win the crown.
Question: "Why should you be the next Miss Universe?"
Answer: "To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I would raise awareness to certain causes, like HIV awareness, that is timely and relevant to my country, which is the Philippines. I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart. Thank you."
In recent editions, the final questions in Miss Universe have been geared towards issues that a candidate's country is facing. If they are lucky enough to enter the finals, it is highly probable to see this scenario. Philippines may be asked about drugs and extrajudicial killings, USA about President Donald Trump, Colombia about the previous year's scandal.
We can be sure that this year's pageant will produce memorable Q&As because we have a very strong batch of candidates. But we'll see what type of memories will be made. – 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 at 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 time to pursue his passions in his spare time.