Crowning blunder at Miss Universe

MISTAKE: Former Miss Universe Paulina Vega, center, removes the crown from Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, left, before giving it to Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, right, at the Miss Universe pageant on Sunday, in Las Vegas. Gutierrez was incorrectly named the winner before Wurtzbach was given the Miss Universe crown PICTURE: John Locher/AP

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach won this year's Miss Universe contest for the Philippines - but thanks to a beauty of a howler, for one brief moment it appeared as if it might be a repeat win for Colombia.

Colombia's Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo was already wearing the crown as this year's Miss Universe winner in Las Vegas when host Steve Harvey dashed back to apologise.

Harvey said it was his mistake and he would take responsibility for not reading the card correctly that named Ms Wurtzbach the winner and Ms Arevalo the first runner-up.

A mystified Ms Wurtzbach appeared stunned as she walked to the front of the stage alongside the crown-wearing Ms Arevalo before last year's Miss Universe from Colombia stepped in to remove the crown and place it on Ms Wurtzbach's head instead.

Harvey told reporters later that no-one felt worse than he did about his mistake.

Mark Shapiro of the pageant's new owner WME-IMG, said Harvey corrected the mistake on his own when he realised the error on air.

The competition started with women representing 80 countries aged between 19 and 27. For the first time, viewers at home weighed in, with their votes being tallied in addition to four in-person celebrity judges.

NBCUniversal and Donald Trump co-owned the Miss Universe Organisation until earlier this year.

But billionaire property tycoon and Republican US presidential hopeful Mr Trump offended Hispanics in June when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his Republican presidential run.

That led Spanish-language network Univision to pull out of the broadcast for what would have been the first of five years airing the pageants and NBC to cut business ties with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump, the former star of the Celebrity Apprentice reality show sued both companies, settling with NBC in September, which included buying the network's stake in the pageants.

That same month Mr Trump sold the organisation that includes the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants to entertainment company WME-IMG.

Ms Wurtzbach said she had conflicting emotions when the mistake happened – joy when she was told she was indeed the winner and not first runner-up, concern for Ms Aravelo and confusion at the whole situation.

She says she tried to approach Ms Aravelo on stage afterwards but the Colombian was crying and surrounded by a crowd of women and she realised it was "probably bad timing".

Saying she was now the voice of Miss Universe, Ms Wurtzbach apologised for what happened, saying the blunder was not done on purpose and "it was an honest mistake".


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