The Miss Universe scandal was not only painful to watch, it has evoked anger in the home country of Miss Colombia, who was mistakenly named the winner before having to relinquish her crown to Miss Philippines.
For those unaware, during the Miss Universe contest in Las Vegas on Sunday night, host Steve Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutiérrez, the winner, forcing the young woman to give back the crown.
That didn’t sit too well in her South American home country.
— CNN (@CNN) December 23, 2015
Gutiérrez’ evening ended in tears, but later the gracious young Columbian recovered and told reporters that “everything happens for a reason.”
Her fellow Colombians were less than magnanimous, according to a report by Time magazine. Things became even more contentious when Steve Harvey attempted an apology but misspelled “Miss Columbia,” wrongly spelled with a u — as in the District of Columbia or the doomed Space Shuttle.
“They stole the crown from us and destroyed the dreams of a country,” Gutiérrez’s cousin, Álvaro Arévalo, told the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo. “They exposed her to public humiliation.”
The scandal ignited a social media frenzy with a plethora of irate messages and conspiracy theories. Many wondered why it took so long for Harvey to admit his error, with some eluding that it was fraud whether than merely a mistake.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 24, 2015
Beauty contests are serious business in Colombia and Colombian women have twice been named Miss Universe, including last year’s winner Paulina Vega, and have been runner-up five times. The BBC has calculated that the country holds nearly 3,800 beauty pageants per year.
Despite her rise through the Colombian pageant circuit and nearly garnering the ultimate price, blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton said that he and other judges preferred Miss Philippines, calling Gutiérrez an arrogant diva.
“There’s a reason, many reasons, why she didn’t win,” he told Good Morning America.
The fallout of the Miss Universe scandal has left Gutiérrez in a position to profit from the error. The mistake has garnered worldwide sympathy and she may well end up more beloved than the real Miss Universe. Colombian fashion maven Pilar Castaño said that “if she plays her cards right, it could be a dream.”