Las Vegas – A South African woman who helps train women in self-defense was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday at the pageant held in Las Vegas, with Miss Colombia and Miss Jamaica also making it to the final three.
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, 22, who unleashed a big smile when she won, hails from Western Cape Province and recently earned a business management degree from North-West University.
Her passion for self-defense was reinforced when she was hijacked and held at gunpoint about a month after winning her title as Miss South Africa, she said in a video on the Miss Universe website.
Miss Colombia, Laura González, 22, was the first runner-up.
She has been preparing to be an actress since the age of 16. After graduating from a performing arts school, she moved to Bogotá to build her career.
The second runner-up was Miss Jamaica, Davina Bennett, 21. She is a model pursuing a degree in marketing at the University of the West Indies.
Rachel Peters finishes in Top 10
Miss Philippines Rachel Peters finished in the Top 10 of the 2017 Miss Universe beauty pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada last Sunday night (Monday morning in the Philippines).
But another Peters – Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – of South Africa was crowned 2017 Miss Universe from the field of 92 contestants.
Demi-Leigh is the second Miss Universe from South Africa in the 66-year-history of the prestigious beauty contest.
The last time a South African beauty won the title was 39 years ago when Margaret Gardiner won the title in 1978.
Demi-Leigh has been one of the favorite candidates to win the crown since the candidates arrived in Las Vegas for the competition.
She even topped gambling portals from around the world as bettors placed their money on her, along with candidates from Thailand, Colombia and the Philippines.
Miss Japan Momoko Abe won the Best in National Costume award.
Pageant fans around the world became the seventh judge of the 2017 Miss Universe pageant as they cast votes during the selection of Top 16 semi-finalists, and Swimsuit and Evening Gown competitions.
Gines Baja Enriquez of the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc., which sends Philippine delegates to competitions abroad, said that Peters did a great job during the finals.
“We did a great job! At the end of the day, it’s really the judges’ pick. Mrs. Araneta prepared Rachel well. It was a great experience for her because she made a lot of friends. We will continue to learn from the winners and will keep on doing our best,” said Enriquez.
Several media men also reacted to the Top 10 finish of the Bicolana beauty queen and why she did advance further.
“Perhaps because the judges preferred either Colombia or Jamaica over her,” said Norman Tinio, of normannorman.com, a popular website on beauty pageants.
“Perhaps she was not what the judges were looking for, and she was overshadowed by the ones who showed personality. The others’ backgrounds were quite impressive, too! And the program highlighted this aspect of the delegates through the videos that were presented,” commented Armin Adina, a pageant expert from a major newspaper.
The winners of the 2016 and 2017 Miss Universe beauty pageants are expected to participate in the Miss Universe 2017 Christmas Tour which will take place in Manila beginning December 6.
The event, which is reportedly being organized by the Department of Tourism, will include activities such as meet-and-greet for the press, fashion show and gala night.
Sources said that the final activities for the Miss Universe Christmas Tour are expected to be announced in the coming days. (With a report from Robert R. Requintina)
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