Miss Mexico, Andrea Meza, a 26 year-old was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, beating Brazilian and Peruvian finalists.
Meza becomes the third Mexican woman in history to win the contest.
Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.
Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The New Miss Universe has a degree in software engineering, addressed the topic of changing beauty standards during the final statement round, saying that “as we have advanced as a society, we have advanced with stereotypes”.
“Nowadays, beauty is not only the way we look. For me, beauty radiates not only in our spirits, but in our hearts and the way we conduct ourselves. Never permit someone to tell you that you are not valuable,” she said.
Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th instalment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.
But the contestant who stole the spotlight was Miss Myanmar, who used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.
“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”
She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”