Live from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, a star-studded panel of judges selected Miss Mexico, Jimena Navarrete, to reign as Miss Universe 2010. Rocker Bret Michaels and NBC “Today” show co-host and correspondent Natalie Morales hosted the international event that was viewed by approximately one billion people. R&B singer John Legend, The Roots and Viva ELVIS by Cirque du Soleil performed for the pageant.
Eighty-three women from around the globe vied for the coveted title, competing in swimsuits, evening gowns, and a final question that could make or break their evening. (See video here)
Adorned in colorful costumes, the contestants were introduced to the world, parading across the stage for the judges and audience to see. The panel included international supermodel Niki Taylor; actor and “Parenthood” star William Baldwin; singer Chynna Phillips; 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek; anchor of “NBC Live” Tamron Hall; Oscar-nominated actor and director, known for his work in movie “A Bronx Tale,” Chazz Palminteri; Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Jane Seymour; illusionist Criss Angel; and percussionist and drummer Sheila E.
In interviews before the show of all the contestants, the Top 15 were selected: Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Ukraine, Miss Mexico, Miss Belgium, Miss Ireland, Miss South Africa, Miss France, Miss Czech Republic, Miss Australia, Miss Jamaica, Miss Russia, Miss Albania, Miss Colombia, Miss Guatemala, and Miss Philippines.
It’s a good thing hosts Morales and Michaels advised the audience this initial stage of the competition was judged before the show because, based on looks alone, many of these women would not have made my list.
In particular, Miss France, Miss Australia, Miss Russia, and Miss Guatemala. Of course, I saw others I thought were more impressive stand-outs. I liked Miss Haiti, Miss Costa Rica, and Miss Honduras. Gone was the legendary Miss Venezuela, the country with the second- most pageant beauty winners, a total of six crowns. Disappointing was the absence of Miss USA, Rima Fakih, not even in the lineup to compete for America’s eighth title. The U.S. still leads with seven Miss Universe victories, the most of any country.
Kicking off the bathing suit competition was a field whittled away to 10 contestants: Miss Ireland, Miss Albania, Miss Philippines, Miss Jamaica, Miss Mexico, Miss Ukraine, Miss Puerto Rico, Miss South Africa, Miss Guatemala, and Miss Australia.
The ladies modeled a purple, stone-embellished bikini in five-inch stilettos (whoa!), and a beach cover up they took off as they descended a flight of stairs…talk about scary! Not a single bobble!
Of the 10 selected by the judges, these are the contestants who stood out from the crowd for me: Miss Mexico, Miss Ireland, Miss South Africa, Miss Jamaica, Miss Philippines, and Miss Ukraine.
I was especially impressed with Miss Mexico’s stunning beauty, poise, and charm. I picked her to win at this point, a sure choice for judges. Miss Philippines and Miss Jamaica were tall, statuesque, with beautiful exotic looks and style. They were definitely in the running. Miss Ireland was a blonde bomb, and I liked the quiet grace of Miss Ukraine, with an elegance like Audrey Hepburn.
The evening gown competition, the final cut before the big question and crowning, included: Miss Mexico, Miss Australia, Miss Jamaica, Miss Ukraine, Miss Philippines.
Well, Miss Philippines had an excellent chance to place second on my score card. Primetime.tv.yahoo.com reported the tall beauty was running head-to-head with our neighbor south of the border, Miss Mexico. Her question was a difficult one, asked by William Baldwin: “What is one big mistake you’ve done in your life and what did you do to make it right?”
She stumbled at a loss for words and danced around, groping for anything. She was done, unfortunately, and she was the last contestant up.
Miss Mexico, on the other hand, albeit her response was in Spanish, answered her question well, which dealt with the use of the Internet and how its unsupervised use affects youths.
Miss Jamaica answered her question confidently too when asked about her thoughts on the death penalty.
These ladies were my two top contenders, with the edge going to Miss Mexico. Here’s my list of winners: Miss Mexico, winner; Miss Jamaica, first runner-up; Miss Ukraine, second runner-up; Miss Philippines, third runner-up; and Miss Australia, fourth runner-up.
Miss Universe 2009, Stefania Fernandez, crowned the new Miss Universe, Miss Mexico, as she strutted her stuff across the stage to a Bret Michaels song.
The winners were in a slightly different order than my list of winners: Miss Jamaica, first runner-up; Miss Australia, second runner-up; Miss Ukraine, third runner-up; Miss Philippines, fourth runner-up.
Other winners of the evening included: Miss Thailand, who won the Miss Photogenic Award, and Miss Australia, winner of Miss Congeniality. Best national costume, chosen by online voters, was Miss Thailand, again.
Miss Universe will receive a year’s supply of Farouk System hair products, a diamond and ruby crown, a designer swimsuit collection, a scholarship to film school, and a Sherry Hill custom-designed wardrobe, among many other prizes.
For more information on the Miss Universe pageant, go here.