KUALA LUMPUR: Comedian and American host Steve Harvey got it right this time – Miss Phillipines Gazini Ganados did win the Best National Costume segment at the 68th Miss Universe 2019.
In a tweet, the verified account @MissUniverse stated that its host Harvey did not slip up and had announced the correct winner of the National Costume for Miss Universe.
“@IAmSteveHarvey had it right: Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados is the winner of the #MissUniverse2019 National Costume competition!
“Congratulations, Gazini,” the tweet read, with a photo of Gazini wearing a silver-white glittering dress with two birds perching on her hands, complete with a headdress.
Meanwhile, Miss Malaysia Universe national director Elaine Daly told the New Straits Times that they were only informed via Twitter on the news after Miss Malaysia Shweta Sekhon was shown on live telecast during the Miss Universe best national costume and gown segment in Atlanta, Georgia USA.
“A few hours ago, during the live telecast just after the opening round, Shweta was asked to go backstage to change into her National Costume for it to be showcased as Best National Costume, and that’s what she did, and conducted interviews as well.
“When she came out, the host announced the Philippines as the winner and even when he approached to talk to Shweta had assumed he was talking to (Miss) Philippines, (Shweta) corrected him and said it was Malaysia and not Philippines. And she continued to explain her costume.
“Malaysia, which has never been placed at Miss Universe nor won anything, rejoiced!
“Four hours later, we found out via Twitter that Miss Philippines was the actual winner. I have taken sometime to reply because I was waiting for an explanation from the Miss Universe Organisation,” she said.
Daly went to email the Miss Universe president Paula Shugart, and was told that Shweta was chosen by the producing staff backstage hence the reason she was on stage instead of Gazini.
“Paula replied to me and said that Philippines won the online voting, but the producing staff backstage picked their favourite and wanted to showcase her.
“However, this was not explained on the show at all. To everyone who watched it, it was like as if Malaysia had won. Because why would you put a delegate in her costume, have her do interviews and then tell her that she actually didn’t win but was just the producing staff’s choice.
“I’m speechless but it is what it is. To all of you who have congratulated and made us feel special, I thank you.
"Shweta and her national costume will always be a winner to us. I mean, we did get all eyes on Malaysia and we got to show off our culture and heritage, right?” she said.
Earlier today, Daly posted on her Instagram showing Shweta, 22, being interviewed after Harvey announced the winner of the segment.
The video showed Harvey announcing Miss Philippines as the winner with her photo on the screen where he later addressed her as Philippines, prompting Shweta to correct him.
Shweta was wearing the Peranakan-themed national costume designed by local designer Carven Ong.
Harvey apologised, saying he was just reading the teleprompter, telling the technical team to “stop playing him”.
The host congratulated Shweta where she was seen graciously explaining the details of the costume to the audience.
“This is representing one of the states in Malaysia, Melaka, and it is has a historical heritage in my country.
“The five tables filled with food that we have for high tea session and what I wear here is the bride’s outfit of the mixed marriage between the Malays and the Chinese while the wings I have represent the goldfish tail which they believe a sign of prosperity.
“So I am three in one, and Steve… we kind of match,” she said jokingly to the host.
The costume, weighing 28kg, was inspired by Malaysia’s multi-cultural character and diversity which was a combination of elements of the Malay, Chinese and Peranakan culture, and was
called the Peranakan Indulgence.
The pageant, held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia in the US started off with the best national costume and gown segment, and later announced Miss Africa Zozibini Tunzi, 26, as the new Miss Universe 2019, beating 90 other contestants.