Philippines' Catriona Gray wins Miss Universe 2018

Catriona Gray of Philippines reacts as she is crowned the new Miss Universe 2018 by Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters on December 17, 2018 in Bangkok
PHOTO: AFP

MANILA, Philippines - Christmas came early to the Philippines as Catriona Gray bested 93 other aspirants for the 2018 Miss Universe crown in ceremonies staged at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday morning to becoming the fourth Filipino woman to win the crown.

She received her crown from last year's winner Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa.

Nel-Peters' compatriot Tamaryn Green failed to score a back-to-back victory for their country, and settled for second place. Venezuela's Sthefany Gutierrez came in third.

The representatives from Vietnam and Puerto Rico, both strong and popular contenders, cracked the Top 5.

Philippines' Catriona Gray crowned Miss Universe 2018

  • Christmas came early to the Philippines as Catriona Gray bested 93 other aspirants for the 2018 Miss Universe crown in ceremonies staged at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday morning to becoming the fourth Filipino woman to win the crown.
  • She received her crown from last year's winner Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa.
  • Nel-Peters' compatriot Tamaryn Green failed to score a back-to-back victory for their country, and settled for second place. Venezuela's Sthefany Gutierrez came in third.
  • Nel-Peters' compatriot Tamaryn Green failed to score a back-to-back victory for their country, and settled for second place. Venezuela's Sthefany Gutierrez came in third.
  • The representatives from Vietnam and Puerto Rico, both strong and popular contenders, cracked the Top 5.
  • During the final round of questioning, the final three were asked about the most important lesson they learned in their lives. Gray shared her experience working in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and looking at the "silver lining" through the smiles of the children there.
  • She hopes to inspire a feeling of being grateful "where negativity will not foster, and the children will have smiles."
  • Contestants selected for the top 5 are pictured during the final round of the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand, December 17, 2018. From L-R: Miss Venezuela Sthefany Gutiérrez, Miss South Africa Tamaryn Green, Miss Philippines Catriona Gray, Miss Vietnam H'Hen Nie and Miss Puerto Rico Kiara Ortega.
  • Miss Universe contestants (L-R) Sophida Kanchanarin of Thailand, H'Hen Nie of Vietnam, Manita Devkota of Nepal, Catriona Gray of Philippines and Tamaryn Green of South Africa stand together after selected as top 20 candidates
  • Last year's winner Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa.
  • Miss Curacao Akisha Albert speaks next to host Steve Harvey after she was selected as one of the contestants for the top 20.
  • Miss Thailand reacting after being selected into the top 20.

The 94-candidate haul this year is the biggest in the pageant's 66-year-history.

During the final round of questioning, the final three were asked about the most important lesson they learned in their lives.

Gray shared her experience working in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and looking at the "silver lining" through the smiles of the children there.

She hopes to inspire a feeling of being grateful "where negativity will not foster, and the children will have smiles."

Miss Philippines with performer Ne-Yo.Photo: Reuters

This year, the global tilt had its first all-female panel of judges.

The esteemed group of women includes two Filipinos - US-based international fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, and Richelle Singson-Michael, daughter of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson, who organised the 65th Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines.

They were joined by former Miss Universe winners Porntip Nakhirunkanok of Thailand (who now goes by the name Bui Simon) and Michelle McLean of Namibia who won her crown in Bangkok in 1992.

Also in the panel were entrepreneurs Liliana Gil Valetta, Iman Obou, and Janaye Ingram.

As in the previous year, the Miss Universe pageant selected semifinalists based on geographical regions. Five delegates were chosen each from the Americas, Europe, and Africa and Asia-Pacific. Five more "wildcard" aspirants were included, regardless of the continent from where their countries are located.

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The pageant also paid tribute to Spain's Angela Ponce for breaking barriers by being the first transgender woman to reach its global stage.

"I don't need to win Miss Universe, I just need to be here," Ponce said in Spanish in a pre-taped segment shown live during the telecast. She received a standing ovation from the judges and the audience.

The other Filipino Miss Universe winners were Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973) and Pia Wurtzbach (2015).

Steve Harvey hosted the ceremonies for the third straight year, with Grammy-winning RnB artist Ne-Yo performing.

 

Miss Universe 2018 contestants show off national costumes