Australian-born Catriona Gray became the fourth Filipina to be crowned Miss Universe after she won the prestigious beauty pageant Monday, 17 December 2018.

The 67th Miss Universe pageant was held at IMPACT Arena, Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi, Thailand.

Gray succeeds Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa.

The pageant was hosted by comedian Steve Harvey and supermodel Ashley Graham. American singer-songwriter Ne-Yo performed before the announcement of the winner.

This year’s pageant hit a record of 94 contestants from all over the world.

Gray’s journey to becoming Miss Universe

Prior to winning the title of Miss Universe, Gray joined and won the following major Major
competition:

  • Winner, Little Miss Philippines 1999
  • Winner, Miss World Philippines 2016
  • Top 5, Miss World 2016
  • Winner, Binibining Pilipinas 2018

Watch: Catriona Gray’s videos leading to the coronation as Miss Universe

Up Close: Miss Universe Philippines 2018

National costume competition

2018 Preliminary Competition Full Show

Crowning Moment

The Pageant

Unlike in previous years, the Miss Universe contestants were trimmed down to 20 semi-finalists, compared to 16 in 2017 and 13 in 2016.

The initial semifinalists were selected through a closed-door interview and a preliminary competition held several days before the coronation night. The continental format, introduced in the 2017 edition, remained—consisting of five semifinalists from Europe, five from the Americas, five from Africa and Asia-Pacific and five wildcards, regardless of continental grouping.

A new section this year was when the top 20 were tasked to give an opening statement—a 15-second statement about the contestant—to the judges and viewing public.

The judges narrowed the semi-finalists down to the top 10 who then competed in both swimsuit and evening gown portions. Then, judges decided the top five to compete in the preliminary question and answer portion. The judges further cut down to the top three. The top three participated in the final word and final look portions, and the judges chose Miss Universe 2018 and her two runners-up.

This year, there was no online voting component for viewers at home.

During the national costume show presentation, Gray showcased a beaded tribal suit featuring the indigenous tribes of the ancient pagan Filipinos, alongside an oversized parol (painted Christmas lantern) pulled by a roller device. The costume was accompanied by a pre-Christian Shamanic dance of the historical Babaylan paganism.

In the pageant’s preliminary stages, Gray stunned netizens with her slow-motion turn on the ramp in the swimwear competition wearing a pink swimsuit, which gained praises from fashion commentators and viewers.

During the first question and answer round, host Steve Harvey asked Gray this question, “Canada recently joined Uruguay as the second nation in the world to make marijuana legal. What is your opinion on the regularisation of marijuana?” She responded:

I’m for it being used for medical use, but not so for recreational use. Because I think if people will argue then what about alcohol and cigarettes? Everything is good but in moderation.

In the final question and answer portion, the top three contestants were asked the same question by Harvey: “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned and how will you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?” Gray answered:

I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is poor and very sad. And I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty of it and look in the beauty of the faces of the children and to be grateful. 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. And this I think if I could 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.

Gray’s answer in the final question-and-answer portion virtually clinched the title for her.

Clad in a fiery red evening gown by Filipino designer Mak Tumang, Gray gracefully walked into the pageant’s runway as she was named the new Miss Universe.

Gray is the fourth Filipina Miss Universe, after Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973) and Pia Wurtzbach (2015).

Personal life

Gray was born in Cairns, Queensland to a Scottish-Australian father, Ian Gray and a Filipino mother, Normita Ragas Magnayon, a Bicolana from Oas, Albay.

Gray studied at Trinity Anglican School in Cairns. She received a degree in Music Theory from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She also obtained a Certificate in Outdoor Recreation and a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do martial arts.

According to Wikipedia, Gray was the lead singer of her school’s jazz band and also starred in local productions of Miss Saigon. After finishing high school in Australia, she moved to Manila where she worked as a commercial model.

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