On Sunday (Dec. 8), the 2019 Miss Universe winner was crowned live from Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Ga. The winner of this year’s pageant is Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi, followed by Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson as first runner-up and Miss Mexico Sofia Aragon as second runner-up. This is just the third win for South Africa at the Miss Universe pageant; the country previously won in 1978 and 2017.
According to her Miss Universe profile, Miss South Africa is a passionate activist and engaged in the fight against gender-based violence. She has devoted her social media campaign to changing the narrative around gender stereotypes.
During the pageant, Miss South Africa was asked about climate change during her Top 5 question-and-answer portion. She said that she thinks leaders need to do more, but that individuals can also do more.
“I think that the future leaders could do a little bit more, but however, I feel like we as individuals ourselves could play a part in making the climate the way it should be,” says Tunzi. “We have children protesting for climates and as adults, we should join as well, we should have corporations join as well. … It is up to us to keep our planet safe.”
During the Top 3, all three women were asked what they think is the most important thing to teach young women. Tunzi said that leadership is the most important — because it’s something young women have historically been told is something they cannot aspire to.
“I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership,” says Tunzi. “It’s something that has been lacking happening in young girls and women for a very long time, not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labeled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity and that is what we should be teaching these young girls, to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”
Then during her final statement, Tunzi said that for her to win Miss Universe would mean so much because she grew up in a world where women who looked like her were not considered beautiful.
“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me … was never considered to be beautiful and I think it’s time that stops,” says Tunzi. “I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
The competition consisted of three preliminary competitions in swimwear, evening gowns, and an initial interview, plus a National Costume competition, and then the live televised pageant that featured a swimwear competition, an evening gown competition, and two question-and-answer portions. It narrowed the field from 90 down to a Top 20, a Top 10, a Top 5, and finally a Top 3.
Steve Harvey hosted the 2019 pageant for the fifth consecutive year despite the fact that in 2015, he said the wrong name during the winning moment. That year, Harvey mistakenly crowned Adriadna Gutierrez of Colombia as Miss Universe instead of Pia Wurtzbach of the Philippines. Minutes later, he had to take the stage to apologize for his gaffe and crown the actual winner.
There were no such mistakes in 2019, though. The pageant went off without a hitch, culminating in Zozibini Tunzi’s big moment. She will reign for the next calendar year until the 2020 pageant where she will pass her crown onto the next Miss Universe.
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