On the evening of Sunday, Dec. 8 in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe 2019.
However, all was not peachy keen for other contestants in the competition -- in particular, Miss Malaysia and Miss Philippines.
There was a cloud of confusion surrounding the national costume competition, one of the smaller awards given out during the Miss Universe competition.
What went down
The internet was abuzz with confusion, as people weren't sure Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados or Miss Malaysia Shweta Sekhon was the winner.
Initially, it appeared that host Steve Harvey had yet again made a mistake while hosting.
He announced Miss Philippines as the winner of the national costume contest instead of Miss Malaysia, who was standing next to him in her Peranakan food-inspired dress.
After Shweta pointed out that she was Miss Malaysia, not Miss Philippines, Harvey corrected himself and praised her costume.
So it appeared that Miss Malaysia was the winner of the country costume competition.
The real winner
However, after the night ended, the Miss Universe organisation announced on Twitter that Harvey had in fact been correct, and that Miss Philippines was the winner of the national costume competition.
Miss Malaysia had only been asked to showcase her costume.
You can read more about the situation here:
Malaysian national director expresses disappointment
After the announcement was made by the Miss Universe organisation, Elaine Daly, national director of the Miss Universe Malaysia organisation, shared her disappointment in how the national costume contest portion turned out.
She explained in an Instagram post that during the live telecast of the Miss Universe competition, Shweta had been asked to change into her national costume backstage for it to be showcased as the best national costume, and had even conducted interviews.
Daly stated that they only found out that the actual winner was Miss Philippines four hours later, via Twitter.
According to Daly, Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe competition, said that while the Philippines had won the contest through online voting, the production staff had wanted to feature their favourite national costume -- that of Miss Malaysia.
However, this was allegedly not explained on the show, leading to the mass confusion.
Daly concluded her post by thanking all of the supporters of Miss Malaysia, and pointing out the silver lining of getting a chance to showcase Malaysian culture:
"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?"
You can read the full post here:
View this post on Instagram
I am extremely disappointed at how the Best National Costume announcement at Miss Universe has come to this. 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 Steve Harvey announced Philippines as the winner and even when he approached to talk to Shweta, he still assumed he was talking to Philippines she of course corrected him and said it was Malaysia and not Philippines. And she continued to explain her costume. Malaysia, who has never been placed at Miss Universe nor won anything, rejoiced! 4 hours later, we found out via Twitter that Miss Philippines was the actual winner. I have taken sometime to reply anyone because I was waiting for an explanation from the Miss Universe Organisation. So I emailed Paula - the President and asked her to please clarify, Paula replied me and said that Philippines won the online voting, but the producing staff backstage picked their favorite and wanted to showcase her. However this was not explained on the show. 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?
Miss Malaysia herself responds
Shweta also took to Instagram to address the unfortunate situation.
She expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to compete in the pageant, before sharing the events leading to the mix-up.
According to Shweta, four countries were informed that they were in the top four, and were briefed to be on standby.
Shweta was then apparently told that she was the winner of the best national costume, and that was why she got into costume.
She then concluded by saying that she is fine with what happened and congratulated Miss Philippines.
Her Instagram post is available here:
View this post on Instagram
No words can ever describe how grateful am I to the Lord for this crazy journey of mine at @missuniverse I came across many new faces , made tons of friends , gained many sisters , got so many mothers and most importantly IT WAS CHRISTMAS SEASON YESTERDAY DURING BREAKFAST WHEN I RECEIVED GIFTS FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD ! . . . Many has been asking me questions and clarification about the National Costume . Well 4 countries were briefed to be on standby as we were Top 4 for National Costume and Philippines was part of it too . We were told that a picture would be displayed if we made it to top 20 and if we don’t , we would have to put it on . The entire day the crew went on finding my costume as I was told to be the WINNER . That is why I got into the costume too . . . . I am totally fine with it because in my eyes , every girl that came to compete is a winner ! Philippines or Malaysia. , there isn’t any difference because we are O N E ! ❤️ Congratulations @zozitunzi for the title too ! Truly deserving indeed and I can’t wait to see your journey !!! 🙏🏻❤️ . . Congratulations to the very beautiful @gazinii too ! Love you so much babe 😘❤️ . . . And to my fellow Malaysians , I can’t wait to be back and get to work ! Trust me , this is just the beginning ! I can’t wait to make you all proud ! I AM UNSTOPPABLE 🇲🇾💪🏻❤️ . . . #MissUniverse #MissUniverseMalaysia #MissUniverseMalaysia2019 #RoadToMissUniverse #ShwetaSekhon #BeautyBeyondYou #YourBodyYourSay
Allegations of a deleted tweet, demands for explanation and apology
However, there are people online who believe there is more to the story than a mere miscommunication.
One Twitter user shared a screenshot that he claims to be a now-deleted tweet by the Miss Universe official Twitter account.
This tweet apparently announced Malaysia as the winner of the best national costume:
They posted this but deleted now.. how unfortunate for Gazini. pic.twitter.com/PvcnG1pgMq— echo (@iamweirdo000) December 9, 2019
It could be a sinister conspiracy, or just that the Miss Universe social media team was as confused as the rest of us.
Top image collage via Instagram/Miss Universe Malaysia and Twitter/Miss Universe.