It was a historic Miss Universe competition Sunday evening as 92 contestants from points across the globe all vied for the prestigious crown. First ever representatives came from the countries of Cambodia, Laos and Nepal, and this year’s edition featured the largest number of entrants seeking the Miss Universe title. In the end, 22-year-old Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa was crowned the winner.
The title of runner-up went to Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez, while the second runner-up honor was given to Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett, according to an item in the Vanguard. Winner Nel-Peters hails from Sedgefield in the Western Cape; Margaret Gardiner (South Africa) won the crown in 1978.
The exciting competition was held at the AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip. Nel-Peters’s platform included championing the causes of HIV/AIDS and self-defense. When the judges asked her about the largest problem facing women in the workplace, she looked at the imbalance between paychecks of men versus women: “In some places, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours, and I do not believe that is right,” said Nels-Peter. “I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”
Although not the first place winner, Miss Jamaica wowed the crowd and numerous fans on social media. Davina Bennett stood out tall and graceful with a glamorous Afro in a mass of blow-dried, pin-straight locks. She is trying to change the old standards of beauty and letting young women realize that natural hair is just fine and should be embraced: “I did not win but I got what I was seeking,” she wrote on her personal Instagram account following the competition. “I stand as the first Afro queen to have made it thus far.”