FAST FACTS: Things to know about the Miss Universe pageant

Jodesz Gavilan

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FAST FACTS: Things to know about the Miss Universe pageant


(UPDATED) Did you know that Catriona Gray is the 4th Filipina to win the crown?

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Philippines clinched its 4th win as Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe 2018 on Monday, December 17.

She is the 4th Filipina to win the pageant just 3 years after Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach won the title in 2015. 

Wurtzbach’s win came after more than 4 decades of special awards and podium finishes. (READ: Mix-up seen ’round the universe: Host Steve Harvey announces wrong winner)

The Miss Universe 2018 title for the Philippines further cemented the country’s spot in international pageants. (READ: MAP: PH and the world in Big 4 beauty pageants)

But just how rich is the history of Miss Universe? Here are some interesting facts:  

1. France waited 58 years before winning another Miss Universe crown.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters’ win in 2017 ended the 39-year gap between the two Miss Universe title holders of South Africa. It first won the crown in 1978. 

France in 2016, meanwhile, ended the country’s 63-year “drought” – the longest in pageant history. It first won the title in 1953. Coming in second is Colombia and its 58-year wait – from 1958 – before getting the crown in 2014 again. 

 Country Years between Miss Universe crowns
France (1953 – 2016) 63 years 
Colombia (1958 – 2014) 56 years
Japan (1959 – 2007) 48 years
Philippines (1973 – 2015) 42 years
South Africa (1978 – 2017) 39 years
Australia (1972 – 2004) 32 years
Finland (1952 – 1975) 23 years
Canada (1982 – 2005) 23 years

The Philippines, on the other hand, had to wait for 42 years after the 1973 win of Margarita “Margie” Moran. The country first won the crown through Gloria Diaz in 1969. (READ: Margie Moran-Floirendo on Miss Universe and Janine Tugonon)

Catriona Gray’s win in 2018, however, came just 3 years after Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach’s winning moment in 2015. 

2. The United States (US) has won the most number of Miss Universe titles since the pageant’s creation in 1952.

With 8 wins, the US leads the tally of countries with the most number of Miss Universe titles.

The country – where the pageant originated – first held the crown in 1954 and lately in 2012 with Olivia Culpo. It has also won a title in every decade since the 1950s – except during the 1970s and 2000s.

The US is followed by Venezuela with 7 titles, Puerto Rico with 5, the Philippines with 4, and Sweden with 3.

FOUR DECADES APART. Before Pia Wurtzbach's (R) win in 2015, the Philippines last held the Miss Universe crown in 1973 through Margie Moran (L).

Meanwhile, countries like the US, Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Brazil, Ukraine, France, and Australia are considered the latest “powerhouses” based on the number of podium finishes and wins in recent years.

Philippine representatives have been part of the top 10 candidates every year since 2010.

3. At 26, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is one of the 3 oldest Miss Universe title-holders.

The latest official rules of the Miss Universe pageant say that candidates should be between 18 and 26 years old.

Based on the data available, most of the Miss Universe beauty queens were crowned at the age of 18. 

Wurtzbach is one of the oldest title winners in the history of the international pageant.

She joins Brooke Lee of the US and Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad & Tobago, who were both 26 when they won the Miss Universe crown in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

The youngest, meanwhile, is first-ever Miss Universe Armi Kuusela of Finland who won the title in 1952 at 17 years old. She married Filipino businessman Virgilio Hilario in 1953 after a short courtship.

4. Miss Universe 2018 saw the most contestants in history

From 92 in 2017, the number of countries and territories which sent their representatives to the Miss Universe pageant grew to 94 in 2018. It is the biggest roster yet in pageant history.

This year, 3 countries made their Miss Universe debut: Armenia, Kyrgyzstan,  Mongolia. 

In 2017, 3 countries from the Asia Pacific region also debuted: Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. (READ: These 3 countries made their Miss Universe debut at the 2017 pageant)

Prior to them, the “latest” member of the international pageant was Azerbaijan when it first joined in 2013. However, a lot of countries have also debuted in the Miss Universe pageant in recent years, including Gabon and Lithuania in 2012, Kosovo in 2008, Tanzania in 2007, and Kazakhstan in 2006, among others.

The Philippines, meanwhile, joined the inaugural pageant in 1952 with Teresita Sanchez as representative. She was crowned Miss Philippines in April 1952 by then Manila mayor Arsenio Lacson.

5. The first Miss Universe to be dethroned was Miss Russia in 2002.

Russia won its first Miss Universe title through Oxana Fedorova in 2002. Her reign, however, lasted for only 4 months after she was dethroned for “failing to fulfill her duties,” the organizers said.

RUSSIA. Dethroned Miss Universe 2002 Oxana Fedorova of Russia during her coronation. Screengrap from Youtube.

Miss Russia was dethroned supposedly because she was pregnant and even married, but she said she wanted to concentrate on her law studies at the time.

First runner-up Justine Pasek of Panama replaced Fedorova and was crowned Miss Universe 2002.

In 2011, Miss Universe Leila Lopes from Angola was accused of producing false documents to allow her to join the local pageant Miss Angola UK. The accusations remained unproven and she continued her reign. –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.