The Philippines’ Catriona Gray was named Miss Universe 2018 in a competition concluding Monday in Bangkok, besting contestants from 93 other countries and delighting her home country.
The 24-year-old Gray wore a sparkling red dress she said is inspired by a volcano in the Philippines as she was handed the crown to the delight of a roaring crowd that generally favoured Southeast Asian contestants. She said she wore red because “when I was 13 my mom said she had a dream that I would win Miss Universe in a red dress.” She said her mom cried when they saw each other after she won the competition. Gray edged out first runner-up Tamaryn Green of South Africa and third-place Sthefany Gutierrez of Venezuela. She succeeds Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa.
In the Philippines, pageants are a popular attraction, and Gray”s countrymen cheered wildly and jumped for joy when she was declared the winner. Celebrations were especially buoyant in Oas town in the northeastern province of Albay, from which Gray’s Filipina mother hails.
The office of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was quick to congratulate the winner. Gray is the fourth Filipina to be named Miss Universe.
“Ms Gray truly made the entire Philippines proud when she sashayed on the global stage and showcased the genuine qualities defining a Filipina beauty: confidence, grace, intelligence and strength in the face of tough challenges,” he said in a statement from the presidential palace.
“In her success, Miss Philippines has shown to the world that women in our country have the ability to turn dreams into reality through passion, diligence, determination and hard work.” An early round of questioning touched on the issue of drugs, where Duterte’s aggressive ”war on drugs has taken thousands of lives, many in what critics charge were extrajudicial executions.