The Miss Universe gaffe made the front page of most of Colombia’s dailies, sent the Internet into overdrive and may be sparking a lawsuit.
BOGOTÁ, Colombia — For Colombians, Sunday might have been the ugliest night in the beauty business.
For a few brief minutes, this looks-obsessed Andean nation thought it had held on to the Miss Universe crown for the second year running. But when the pageant’s host, Steve Harvey, announced that he’d made a mistake and that the honor belonged to the Philippines, the mood turned into that of a jilted prom queen.
The gaffe made the front page of most of Colombia’s dailies, sent the Internet into overdrive and may be sparking a lawsuit.
Barranquilla’s El Heraldo splashed “Universal Error” across its front page while Bogota’s ADN read: “Miss Universe for Three Minutes.”
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By Monday, the Twitter hashtag #Lacoronaserespeta — “the crown must be respected” — was trending in Colombia as social networks seethed with memes and conspiracy theories.
One popular clip focused on a moment where a spectator in the Miss Universe audience seems to be handing Harvey an envelope after the flawed announcement. For many, that was dubious proof of a rigged event.
“It wasn’t a mistake by Steve Harvey; it was a dirty humiliation, a manipulation to make Miss Colombia look ridiculous in front of the world,” one commenter wrote of the widely circulated clip.
A page on www.change.org called “Give Miss Universe Colombia back her crown” had almost 17,000 likes by Monday afternoon.
Harvey apologized profusely on air for the error and held up the winning envelope to prove there was no foul play.
But when he took to Twitter to apologize, he doubled the insult: he misspelled both the winning and slighted countries.
“I want to apologize emphatically to Miss Philippians and Miss Columbia,” he wrote. “This was a terribly honest human mistake and I am regretful.”
The message was corrected soon afterward, but not before it was retweeted more than 30,000 times and USA Today and other outlets managed to grab screen shots.
Colombia takes its beauty pageants seriously, and the nation has generated a number of finalists in the race. In 2014, Maria Paulina Vega became the country’s first Miss Universe since the 1950s. In fact, it was Vega who had the dubious honor of placing the tiara on Ariadna Gutierrez’s head only to be forced to transfer it to the dome of Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Philippines.
The Colombian law firm De la Espriella said two of its attorneys are filing a lawsuit against the pageant.
“The crown is an acquired right that cannot be taken away from us,” the company wrote on its Twitter account. “At this moment we’re writing the lawsuit.”
Not surprisingly, the error during the globally televised contest caught high-level attention. U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump had owned the Miss Universe franchise until last year. Amid Sunday’s mistake, he retweeted a comment from a follower.
“Donald Trump must be overjoyed that as soon as he sells the pageant it goes off the rails,” it read. “We need you Mr. Trump.”
The three-minute queen handled the snafu like a pro.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Gutierrez told the cameras after the event was over, wiping a tear from her eye. “I’m happy for all of what I did.”