Miss Philippines is new Miss Universe

Dec. 21, 2015 — Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was initially announced as First Runner-up, placing only second to Miss Columbia as winner of the Miss Universe beauty tilt. For around 90 seconds, Miss Columbia Ariadna Gutierrez was crowned the winner and had been given her flowers. She was basking in her moment of glory on stage.

But pageant host Steve Harvey said he accidentally read out the wrong name and emphatically apologised to the two women — Miss Philippines and Miss Colombia, finally declaring Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach as the real winner.

Harvey explained his error, showed the judges’ score card and accepted full responsibility.

The contestants presented themselves in swimsuit, evening gown and a particularly gruelling final question portion. The top five contestants were each asked a single question, with topics ranging from gun control, terrorism, legalizing marijuana and to how to fight drug addiction.

The final three, Miss USA, Miss Columbia and Miss Philippines were then asked why they should be the next Miss Universe.

In a surprise twist, the other 77 contestants had a say in who should end up with the crown. Those watching at home also had a chance to pick the winner, with the organization offering real time voting on their website — but it briefly crashed due to the influx of internet traffic.

Host Harvey was in fine form throughout the three-hour telecast up until the final moment, providing colourful commentary along with Roselyn Sanchez. Though the pageant almost went off without a hitch, there was a twinge of controversy: Celebrity judge Perez Hilton remarked that “Thankfully, Donald Trump doesn’t own this pageant anymore.” It’s a good thing that US presidential candidate Donald Trump is no longer the owner of the pageant. Trump would have uttered the words “You’re fired” as he usually did in the once popular TV series “The Apprentice.”

Miss Colombia was then stripped of the crown, and was forced to look on as it went to Miss Philippines. She looked visibly upset by the incident after it unfolded on live television. She said she was still “happy” while wiping away tears with a tissue.

Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega takes off the crown from Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez before putting it on the head of Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. Picture: Associated Press

Miss Australia Monika Radulovic was eliminated when the final three contenders were announced. Miss Australia Jennifer Hawkins won the title in 2004. Philippine beauty Gloria Diaz was first to win the Miss Universe title in 1969 while Miss Margie Moran won it for the Philippines in 1973. There are now 3 Miss Universe title holders from the Philippines.

Updated: 2016-01-01 — 17:48:00