(Eagle News) — Miss Mexico’s Andrea Meza was crowned Miss Universe 2020 in Florida as the pageant returned to the stage on the evening of May 16 in the US after being postponed last year due to the COVID pandemic.
The return of the Miss Universe pageant on television and on online livestreaming amid the pandemic was also historic.
The panel of judges were all women: former Miss Universe winners Brooke Lee (1997), the only native Hawaiian to win both Miss USA and Miss Universe, and Zuleyka Rivera (2006) from Peru; Korean-American actress-singer-model Arden Cho; South Asian entrepreneur Deepika Mutyala; Canadian TV pertonality Keltie Knight; Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy; Colombian economist Tetyana Orozco; and Mary Kay Cosmetics’ chief marketing officer Sheryl Adkins-Green.
Four of the top five finalists were Latin American beauties. Aside from Mexico’s Meza, 26, who won the crown, those from Latin America who got into the top five were Brazil’s Julia Gama, 27, who was declared first runner-up; Peru’s Janick Maceta, 27, who was second runner-up; and Dominican Republic’s Kimberly Jimenez, 24, who was the fourth runner up in the 69th Miss Universe pageant.
Only Miss India, Adline Castelino, 22, was the candidate who was not from Latin America in the top five of the Miss Universe finals.
-Winning answers on how to handle the pandemic, changing beauty standards-
Meza was able to answer a very difficult question about how to handle the pandemic. She was also the first one called from among the top five to answer questions from the judges.
In the finals’ Question and Answer portion, Miss Mexico was asked, “If you were the leader of your country, how would you have handled the COVID-19 pandemic?”. The question was from Miss Universe 1997 Brook Lee.
Meza’s answer was: “I believe there’s not a perfect way to handle this hard situation such as COVID-19. However, I believe that what I would’ve done was [to] create the lockdown even before everything was that big. Because we lost so many lives and we cannot afford that. We have to take care of our people. That’s why I would’ve taken care of them since the beginning.”
Her final statement, when she got the topic “changing beauty standards,” also won the judges’ hearts.
She answered in her native tongue, which was relayed in English by an interpreter: “We live in a society that more and more is advanced. And as we have advanced as a society, we’ve also advanced with stereotypes. Nowadays, beauty isn’t only the way we look. For me, beauty radiates not only in our spirit but in our hearts and the way that we conduct ourselves. Never permit someone to tell you that you’re not valuable.”
The last time that a candidate from Mexico won the Miss Universe crown was in 2010 (Ximena Navarrete), and before that in 1991 (Lupita Jones).
The 2020 Miss Universe pageant saw 74 candidates competing for the crown, including the debut of Cameroon, and the return of Ghana and Russia who have not competed since 2018.
However, 19 countries and territories failed to send their representatives due to lockdown and COVID restrictions. These include Bangladesh, Angola, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Germany, Guam, Kenya, Lithuania, Mongolia, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, and the US Virgin Islands.
(Eagle News Service)