LAS VEGAS - Miss Philippines was named Miss Universe Sunday in a drama-filled turn worthy of a telenovela.
The pageant's host, comedian Steve Harvey, misread his cue card which he initially said had Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, as the winner.
She was briefly, very fleetingly, crowned in Las Vegas and started the customary smiling and waving.
But not for long.
As she blew kisses, Harvey awkwardly said "I have to apologize. The first runner up is Colombia." " Miss Universe 2015 is Philippines," he added, with the Colombian contestant left like a deer in headlights and the actual winner, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, looking stunned.
And all on live television with millions watching from Manila to Manchester.
"It was my fault," Harvey stammered as a perplexed audience held its breath.
"Please don't hold it against the ladies," added the talk show host.
The contest, held in Las Vegas this year, is wildly popular in Latin America and much of Asia.
"I am so regretful," Harvey said on Twitter in an apology to the contestants from Colombia and the Philippines.
I'd like to apologize wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia & Miss Philippines for my huge mistake. I feel terrible.— Steve Harvey (@IAmSteveHarvey) December 21, 2015
When asked why she wanted to be Miss Universe, Wurtzbach replied that, "I will use my voice to influence the youth and I would raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness, that is timely and relevant to my country." "I want to show the world, the universe rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart," she said.
Among the more notable moments, Flora Coquerel of France, who was at the Paris stadium the night of the November attacks by militant Islamistss, reached the final five and Ariana Miyamoto of Japan, whose father is African-American, reached the top 10 contestants.
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Miyamoto's height of 1.73 m and bronze skin are unusual in Japan and her selection to represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant created an online firestorm in her native country.
For the first time, viewers had a chance to vote on the winner, rating contestants in the swimwear, evening gown and interview competitions.
Until recently, the pageant was co-owned by Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal and Trump, who is leading national polls in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race.
Earlier, Trump's remarks about Mexicans in announcing his presidential candidacy in June drew sharp criticism, and the Spanish-language network Univision pulled out of a deal to televise the pageant.
Trump, who has sued Univision for $500 million, bought out NBC's stake in the Miss Universe Organization, which produces both Sunday's pageant and the Miss USA contest. He sold the company in September.
The panel of judges included former National Football League great Emmitt Smith, celebrity blog mogul Perez Hilton and 2012 Miss Universe winner Olivia Culpo. Hilton, a Miss USA judge, said the two most important things about the pageant were the vastly larger audience and that Trump was no longer owner.
Reactions from Twitter users
As if his mistake wasn't bad enough, Harvey made several typos in his original apology on Twitter: