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Miss South Africa defies beauty standards to win Miss Universe 2019

Zozibini Tunzi crowned Miss Universe as wrong winner is named for Best National Costume

ATLANTA : Miss South Africa was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Atlanta after a lavish ceremony filled with glitter and heartfelt speeches about female empowerment.

Miss Zozibini Tunzi, 26, finished first ahead of the Puerto Rican and Mexican finalists - who placed second and third respectively - in a flashy televised event hosted by US comedian Steve Harvey.

A panel of seven women determined the winner.

Miss Tunzi earned cheers during her closing speech, a new segment of the competition, in which she talked about wanting to empower young women to feel confident.

"I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful. I think that it is time that that stops today," she said to thunderous applause.

Miss Tunzi beat more than 80 contestants from around the globe in the 68th instalment of Miss Universe.

Although she did not make the finals, Miss Myanmar Swe Zin Htet made waves last week when she came out as the pageant's first openly gay contestant.

"I have that platform that, if I say that I'm a lesbian, it will have a big impact on the LGBTQ community back in Burma," Miss Htet told People magazine, using her country's historic name.

BOO BOO

Host Harvey seemed to have mixed up the results for Best National Costume when a photo of Miss Philippines was flashed on the screen .

Harvey then told the audience "this is it right here", gesturing to a contestant beside him.

But she was not Miss Philippines. Instead, the woman was Miss Malaysia.

"It's not the Philippines, it's Malaysia," Miss Malaysia Shweta Sekhon, 22, had to tell him.

Harvey recovered, blaming the mix-up on what he had read off a teleprompter. However, the organisers later clarified that Harvey and the show producers had not made a mistake.

Miss Philippines was indeed the winner, but the producers wanted Miss Malaysia to be on stage to give more details about her elaborate costume.- AFP

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