Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday. The African beauty was crowned at The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
Along with the title, Nel-Peters earned a yearlong salary, a luxury apartment in New York City for the duration of her reign and more prizes.
Girl power, right on
On Sunday night Miss South Africa 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters become the first Miss South Africa to take this prestigious title since Margaret Gardiner won in 1978.
The 22-year-old is looking forward to using her reign to champion HIV/AIDS and self-defense causes.
“HIV/AIDS is a very big problem in my country, South Africa. I hope to stand as an advocate for that,” she said after the event.
Runners-up were Miss Colombia and Miss Jamaica.
Nel-Peters from Sedgefield in the Western Cape was one of the hot favorites going into the pageant. She received huge support from around the world on social media.
During her acceptance speech, the new Miss Universe expressed she was both proud and humbled to have won and that her dreams had become a reality.
“I resonate with everything that the Miss Universe organization stands for. Especially empowering women across the globe.”
“I have always tried to be the example of the change I want to see in the world. This platform will give me the opportunity to make a difference. I hope I have made South Africans proud and that I will continue to do so during my reign.”
And we can only look forward to her reign as Miss Universe considering how much she did during her time as Miss South Africa.
Nel-Peters is all about girl power. She launched her successful Unbreakable campaign to empower thousands of young girls and women throughout the country.
The campaign hoped to do so by teaching them skills on how to handle difficult situations. Like hijackings, muggings, robberies and toxic relationships.
Before she was crowned Miss South Africa had completed her B. Com in business management and entrepreneurship and was a part-time model.
Ninety-two women from around the world participated in the decades-old competition. This year’s edition had the most contestants ever. Including the first representatives in its history of Cambodia, Laos, and Nepal.
At the end, participants comprised in the Top 16. Four entrants from Asia Pacific and Africa; four from Europe; four from the Americas and four wild cards voted for by the judges.
Steve Harvey returned as the show’s host after infamously botching the 2015 Miss Universe crowning, by naming the wrong contestant.
Harvey didn’t miss the opportunity to joke on his previous mistake throughout the night.
However, Harvey wasn’t all alone during the host of the big night. Model Ashley Graham served as co-host.
This year’s judges for the finale included previous Universal beauties, Wendy Fitzwilliam Miss Universe 1998 from Trinidad and Tobago; and Pia Wurtzbach Miss Universe 2015 from the Philippines.
Also serving as hosts were personalities such as Jay Manuel, Ross Mathews, Megan Olivi and Lele Pons.
Grammy-Award winner Fergie performed her new song ‘A Little Work’ while the contestants walked down the stage wearing evening gowns.
On sexual harassment and gender equality
With notorious Hollywood men hitting headlines with sexual harassment accusations, it was only natural that the topic arose during Sunday’s competition.
A fan-submitted question asked why it’s important for men and women to work together to address the issue of sexual misconduct.
Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett said men and women should come together to make sure no form of abuse, including sexual harassment, is acceptable.
“Sexual harassment is a form of abuse, and no abuse should be tolerated whether in the workplace or in society,” Bennett said.
The questions round also brought up gender-related questions. When Miss South Africa was asked to name the most important issue women face in the workplace, Nel-Peters said the lack of equal pay.
“In some places, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours, and I do not believe that is right,” said Nel-Peters.
“I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”
After the show, the newly titled Miss Universe said women can empower each other to stand up against any abuse.
“You feel so empowered because you are on a stage with 91 other women that are strong, that are independent, that have worked really hard,” she said.
“They are all winners; they are winners of their own countries, and to me, that was so empowering. That just showed me that if women take hands and stand together, we are unbreakable and we can say no to the things that are wrong in the workplace, at home or wherever you might go.”