Why Miss Universe loves Las Vegas

VIVA LAS VEGAS! Miss Universe 2016, Iris Mittenaere poses with the 2017 contestants during the welcome event at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Thursday, November 16. Coronation night is on November 26, US time. All photos from HO/The Miss Universe Organization

The 66th Annual Miss Universe Pageant will be held once again in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Although the Spanish meaning of “las vegas” is the meadows, that is hardly what one associates with the city in its present state. It has also been home to the Miss Universe pageant for 6 editions (1991, 1996, 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2017)

The Miss Universe Organization and the editions of the pageant that were held there had very significant firsts for the pageant

Interesting Trivia about Las Vegas and Miss Universe

  • It is the 35th time that pageant is held in the United States

  • It is the 5th time it is held at the Axis Theatre (formerly Aladdin Theatre and Planet Hollywood Theatre)

1991 Miss Universe Pageant

  • Winner: Lupita Jones (Mexico) – This is the first time that Mexico won the crown.
  • Philippines: Maria Lourdes Gonzalez (unplaced)

Finals Judge: Filipina songstress Kuh Ledesma served on the panel of judges. She asked the final question for Miss USSR, Yulia Lemigova, the eventual 2nd runner-up, “What is the most important advice your mother ever gave to you?” To which Miss USSR replied, “My mother never gave me not important advice. She always gave me very important and very good advice and the most important advice she told me was that I have to try, do everything in my life by myself. Otherwise, I would be nothing. And I try to do this.”

Miss Universe 1991 Lupita Jones from Mexico

Miss Universe 1991 Lupita Jones from Mexico

1996 Miss Universe Pageant

  • Winner: Alicia Machado (Venezuela)
  • Philippines: Aileen Leng Damiles (Miss Photogenic)

Online voting: This was the very first time in the pageant’s history that online voting was introduced. The Philippines was the recipient of this award. As this was at the beginning of the internet era, the pageant world wasn’t ready for the Filipinos’ enthusiasm. So, for the first two years, we won the Miss Photogenic Award through online voting.

Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado from Venezuela

Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado from Venezuela

  • Donald Trump bought the Miss Universe Organization and this was the first edition under his ownership and Alicia Machado was its first winner.

  • It was the first year the the “Little Sisters” would not escort the semifinalists in the evening gown parade to the tune of “You Are My Star”. This was a long standing tradition in Miss Universe which was taken out during the Trump years.

  • Interestingly enough, Alicia Machado became the first Miss Universe who was body shamed by its management during her reign. In 2016, Alicia Machado would become a US citizen and then publicly announce that she would not vote for Donald Trump in the elections.

2010 MIss Universe Pageant

  • Winner: Ximena Navarrete (Mexico)
  • Philippines: Venus Raj, 4th runner-up

After briefly being dethroned, Venus would later be reinstated as Bb. Pilipinas Universe. She started a historic placement streak in Miss Universe for the Philippines and emerged as 4th Runner-up.

Venue: It was the first time the pageant was held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center

The Philippines' Venus Raj during the 2010 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas

The Philippines’ Venus Raj during the 2010 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas

2012 Miss Universe Pageant

  • Winner: Olivia Culpo (USA)
  • Philippines: Janine Tugonon,1st Runner-up

Janine Tugonon during the 2012 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas

Janine Tugonon during the 2012 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas

2015 Miss Universe Pageant

Winner: Pia Wurtzbach (Philippines)

  • It was the first time in Miss Universe history that the wrong contestant was initially announced as a winner. The host, Steve Harvey, announced Ariadna Gutierez of Colombia as the winner. Immediately after the coronation, Harvey took to the stage to correct the mistake.
  • It was the first edition held under the ownership of WME/IMG who had purchased the Miss Universe Organization from Donald Trump.

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach takes her final walk at the Mall of Asia Arena

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach takes her final walk at the Mall of Asia Arena

The 2017 Miss Universe Pageant will be at The Axis Theatre on November 26, 2017. Our very own, Rachel Peters has been preparing since being crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2017. If she wins, she will be the Philippines’ 4th winner. But Rachel isn’t the only Filipino with an important role in the pageant.

Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Rachel Peters during her send-off at Novotel. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Rachel Peters during her send-off at Novotel. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

Cecilio Asuncion, owner of Slay Model Management and one of the stars from the reality show Strut, will serve as a preliminary judge. On social media, Cece spoke about the preliminaries, saying: “I am beyond excited to announce that I will be one of the official #MissUniverse Preliminary Competition judges this year!”

Lastly, Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach, who herself won on that very stage 2 years ago, will be one of the telecast judges.

It will surely be a memorable evening for Pia who will be reliving her journey. Here’s hoping, that with the prayers and well-wishes of an entire country behind her, Rachel Peters will have the most memorable night of her life and win the Miss Universe crown. What a historic evening of Philippine pride and joy it would be. It is a night for the entire country to forget its woes even for just a moment, with an entire population rejoicing to celebrate the confidently beautiful Filipina.

This article originally appeared in Rappler.
All photos courtesy of Rappler unless otherwise indicated.

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