With 94 women from all over the world representing their countries in the Miss Universe pageant, a precise scoring system is in place to determine the 2018 winner of the “Miss Universe” title. Preliminary competition and scoring started earlier this week in Thailand. Tonight’s competition, which will crown the winner, airs at 7pm ET/6pm CT on Fox.
In general, the Miss Universe organization defines their winner as “confident. She must understand the values of our brand and the responsibilities of the title. She must have the ability to articulate her ambition. A contestant should demonstrate authenticity, credibility and exhibit grace under pressure.”
The preliminary competition is what MissUniverse.com calls “the driving force in selecting the Semifinalists.” It consists of preliminary interviews, swimsuit/athletic wear presentation, and evening gown presentation. The Top 20 Semifinalists chosen from this preliminary round will be the ones competing on national television for the crown and title of Miss Universe.
During the televised final competition, they announced that they are introducing something new this year: the 20 women will present their personal statements to the audience and judges, and a cut will be made from 20 to 10. Those top 10 will immediately prepare for and walk in their swim or athletic wear, “displaying her dedication to a healthy lifestyle.” They will then walk in their evening gowns, meant to reflect their personal style. The website says that judging for this portion is based not on the gown design itself, but on the woman’s confidence when presenting herself in it.
Once swimwear and evening gowns have been presented, the next cut will be made and the Top 5 will be announced. Those top 5 answer a “Final Question” at random, written by their fellow competitors. The questions are social, political, or cultural in nature, and are meant to “determine the contestant’s ability to articulate themselves under pressure while sharing a thoughtful, well-informed response.” Contestants’ scores from the question round are averaged in with their other scores to determine the Top 3. Those final 3 will get one last walk and opportunity to speak, called the “Final Look,” before the judges choose their winner for Miss Universe 2018.
This year, they are choosing their Top 20 based on region: 5 will be from Africa and Asia Pacific, 5 from the Americas, 5 from Europe, and 5 “wildcards” that can be pulled from any region. Fans were able to vote for their favorite contestants during last year’s 2017 Miss Universe competition, but that feature has been eliminated this year.
While Miss Universe does not disclose what that scoring system looks like exactly, pageant coach Valerie Hayes explains that in preliminary pageant competition, each judge assigns a score to a contestant to be averaged in with the scores of their fellow judges. Those scores are meant to be erased once the semifinal competition begins, so all remaining contestants are on the same level playing field. A “mention system” might also be used, in which “judges are asked to score a contestant with a ‘1’ when they display a high skill level and a ‘0’ if their skill level is average or below.” To determine the winner among those final 3 during the “Final Look,” there is likely a forced ranking system in place. Hayes says that “forced ranking is typically combined with either a points-based or mention scoring system and only used for the final ballot. In this case, contestants receive points or mentions throughout the preliminary and final competitions.
This year’s Miss Universe competition “selection committee” women-only panel of judges is made up of CEO of Platinum Skies Aviation and FinTech – Casha.me Richelle Singson-Micheal, luxury fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, television host and children’s trust founder Michelle McLean, activist and Director of National Partnerships for Airbnb Janaye Ingram, entrepreneur, scientist, and former beauty queen Iman Oubou, philanthropist and former Miss Universe Bui Simon, and tech innovator and entrepreneur Lili Gil Valletta.