Miss Universe crowned Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray the 2018 pageant winner Sunday night after an eventful competition in Bangkok, Thailand.
This is Catriona Gray's final word. #MissUniverse
VIDEO CREDIT: Under License from Miss Universe, LLP pic.twitter.com/HvsgEqkUKO— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) December 17, 2018
The other members of the Top 5 included Kiara Ortega of Puerto Rico, H'Hen Nie of Vietnam, Sthefany Gutierrez of Venezuela, Tamaryn Green of South Africa.
Gray, 24, previously won Miss World Philippines in 2016. She is the fourth Miss Philippines to win the crown, notes the PhilStar.
In the answer to her final question, Gray talked about her volunteer work in Manila. She said the experiences taught her to always look in the "beauty of children."
“And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson," she said. "And this I think if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster and children will have smile on their faces."
The winner was chosen from participants from 94 different countries, beating last year's record of 92. The ceremony was hosted by comedian Steve Harvey and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition model Ashley Graham, with a performance from Ne-Yo.
Miss Universe 2018 is... PHILIPPINES! pic.twitter.com/r2BkN8JpXh— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 17, 2018
Ahead of the competition, it was marred by controversy from Sarah Rose Summers, who represented the U.S. at the pageant and made the Top 20. During a live Instagram video on Wednesday, the 24-year-old mocked H'Hen Nie and Miss Cambodia Rern Sinat over their English-language skills.
Summers later issued an apology on Friday.
"In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize," Summers said on Instagram. "My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H'Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me."
H'Hen Nie later told CNN she did not believe Summers meant anything by her comments.
"Everyone in this competition, myself included, loves and respects one another," H'Hen Nie said. When she knew about my difficulties with (the English) language, she took an interest and showed me love. That's why she knows about that. Thank you Miss USA for taking care of me, showing me love and helping me recently."
Meanwhile, Miss Spain Angela Ponce made history as the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe. She told the Associated Press in July how she hoped her appearance on the show will be a positive influence to trans children around the world.
"If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me," Ponce told the AP.
Ponce has personally experienced the discrimination many in the transgender community still face every day and she hoped her appearance could stop others from feeling the same.
"I’m not trying to impose anything on anyone. I’d never try to change anyone’s culture or way of life. But by competing I’ll make trans people more visible for everyone, which is a big step," Ponce told TIME before the competition. "I’m not nervous. I’m excited."1comments
Last year's Miss Universe winner was Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa. No Miss USA has won the title since Olivia Culpo in 2012.
Photo credit: Frank Micelotta / FOX