While contestants had a chance to talk about their accomplishments and work, Miss Universe host Steve Harvey instead posed a quirky question to Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu, on Dec. 13.
This was before Sandhu was eventually crowned Miss Universe in Eilat, Israel that night, bringing the title back to India for the third time after 21 years.
Prompted to meow
"I hear you do some pretty good animal impersonations," Harvey said when it came to Sandhu's turn.
While Sandhu appeared stunned, Harvey looked at his cue cards and said, "Yeah, they got that question, let's hear your best one."
The 21-year-old actress and advocate for women's empowerment took the question in her stride:
"Oh my god, Steve, I was not expecting to do this on world stage. Uh, but I have to do this, I have no other option. I love cats, I love animals, I would love to make a cat. Brace yourselves, everyone."
Sandhu put her hands up like a cat and meow-ed several times.
With the microphone still on her, she said that she realised "we should never compromise on our hobbies, because that can lead to your dream career".
Not all for question
While some thought the question was funny, some found it bizarre, and others felt it was simply disrespectful and embarrassing for the organisers to ask her to do that.
This moment make me start rooting for her, it really showed that she has a fun personality and is not afraid to do this on TV. I am very glad she won, this moment really made me laugh. ☺👑— April (@fourft10) December 13, 2021
Handled question with class
Sandhu later told Insider that she didn't agree with the criticism Harvey received for asking the question.
"I think everybody was in the moment and everyone enjoyed it, and that's what really matters at the end of the day," said Sandhu.
"I'm happy I was asked a fun question because, at the end of the day, it definitely gets so serious."
She added that she felt more comfortable after the question, saying that everyone was asked something related to their life, and everyone had different stories to tell.
"I thought, 'This is my time to shine and my time to showcase one of my great talents, and why not? We're all here to embrace ourselves.'"
In their final statement on stage, contestants were asked to give advice to young women dealing with the pressures they faced today.
Sandhu reminded women to "stop comparing yourselves with others", and "speak for yourself, because you are the leader of your life, you are the voice of your own".
"I believed in myself and that is why I am standing here today," she added.
Harvey blunders again
American presenter and recurring Miss Universe host Harvey had infamously crowned the wrong contestant in 2015 as Miss Universe that year at the tail end of the pageant.
And again in 2019, he caused some confusion on who won the best national costume.
This time, after announcing the second runner-up to be Miss South Africa, Harvey misspoke while addressing the final two contestants, Miss India and Miss Paraguay, reported Yahoo News.
"Congratulations, Portugal," he said, before realising his mistake.
He passed the blame to the teleprompter, saying that "they had Portugal on the damn sign".
"They're trying to get me again, but I'm not going for it this year," he said after correcting himself, "don't try to blame this on me this year."
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Top images by Miss Universe/Twitter and Fox News.