3 Great Miss Universe Q&As that weren’t enough to win the crown

FIRST RUNNER-UP. Miss USA, Olivia Culpo (R), reacts beside Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon (L), after being named Miss Universe 2012 during the Miss Universe Pageant at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Photo by Joe Klamar/AFP Photo
Around the world, women who dream of becoming Miss Universe train all their lives, sacrifice so much, and join as many times as necessary to have the opportunity to compete.

The following are some of the most notable candidates who gave the best answers in the Final Question and Answer round and ended up only as First Runner-up. Sometimes, a great answer just isn’t enough.

Colombia 1993

Paula Andrea Betancourt from Medellin, Colombia, was the most articulate candidate that Miss Universe had seen in 1993. Paula answered all her questions in Spanish in a very fast, authoritative, confident manner, and with a smile. She competed in Mexico City, Mexico, where Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico won the crown.

Question: “If you were to become Miss Universe, what is the single most important thing you would want to accomplish?”

Answer: “Since I come from the land of the Amazonas in [Colombia], we are like the lungs of the world. What I would do is that I would join with all the countries in the world in an ecological campaign, so that we can conserve our natural resources. So that we can then offer them to our children, who are the future of the world. So that they will be able to live in a healthy and loving environment.”

India 1995

It was the year that India was aiming for the first ever back-to-back win in Windhoek, Namibia. Outgoing queen, Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994, delivered one of the best answers in pageant history the year before. If there was one candidate who can outdo her, it was Manpreet Brar from Delhi, India. Her well-modulated voice and very calm nature added to the commanding way she gave her answers.

Top 6 Interview – Judges’ questions

Question: “If you find yourself where you are being discriminated against because of race, what would you do?”

Answer: “There’s a saying that goes, ‘If your back is bent, only then will somebody climb on it. So stand up straight and nobody will ever climb on your back.’ That’s all.”

Top 3 Final Question:

Question: “If you had the power to do anything you wished to improve the status of women in your country, what would you do?”

Answer: “I would give the women in my country the ability and the right to choose. The right to choose their lives, the right to choose what they want to do with their lives. And only then will they be individuals, not just mothers, daughters or wives, but individuals…thinking, living individuals.”

Philippines 2012

The Philippines came very close to capturing its third crown during Miss Universe 2012. Janine Tugonon continued the final 5 placement for the third year in a row. The question was sent in from Twitter, and judge Nigel Barker asked:

Question: “As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?”

Answer: “For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing about how to speak a specific language. It’s being able to influence and inspire other people. So what….(audience applauds) So whatever language you have, as long as your heart is to serve and you have a strong mind to show to people, then you can be Miss Universe. Thank you.”

At this point, many pageant observers believed she would win. But it was Miss USA, Oilivia Culpo, who ultimately triumphed, becoming the 8th Miss USA to win the coveted title.

Ironically, preceding Janine was Miss Venezuela, Irene Esser, who botched her Final Q&A as she struggled to answer in English.

Whenever a candidate with a better answer loses, many fans are quick to post on social media that the pageant was rigged, that the judges are from the same country, or the organization favored the winning country because they will host or have hosted the pageant.

In reality, the judges’ overall impression of the candidates, the judges’ personalities and backgrounds are what make the difference.

Typically, great pageant answers may be sound overly rehearsed, giving the impression that the candidate lacks authenticity, in contrast to a more candid and casual answer which may portray a more genuine and approachable person.

Ultimately, it really just boils down to who the judges like better and feel can fulfill the role of Miss Universe.


This article originally appeared in Rappler.
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