The 70th Miss Universe competition is nearing its glittery climax, with our reigning queen Andrea Meza set to crown her successor tomorrow.
Over the last two weeks, we have followed the 80 exceptional women vying for the crown as they explored Jerusalem and Eilat in Israel, and we watched as they all took to the stage for the first time on Saturday, Dec. 11 (Philippine time) at the preliminary competition. Everyone has proven themselves worthy of the sash they carry across their chest, and if it were up to us, we’d crown all of them; they would all certainly deserve it.
But, alas, it doesn’t work like that. So we just did the next best thing: we looked closely at all these dazzling empowered women and we chose 10 standouts that we see are closest to the crown.
Take a look at them below (In no particular order):
The buzz surrounding her has been strong even before she stepped into the plane that took her to Eilat, and everything she’s shown since she landed has further cemented her as a major frontrunner. She’s gorgeous; the camera just loves her and she has charisma in spades. Deltour's story (grew up poor in Ethiopia, moved to Belgium when she was adopted at 10 years old, reconnected with her birth family in Ethiopia recently) has also pushed her into the forefront of the conversation and her standout performance in the preliminaries proved that all the attention on her is very well deserved. We see her finishing quite high—top 5, at least—or if the stars align for her on the finals, she could even bring home to Belgium their very first Miss Universe crown.
No surprises here—she has also been a major contender since she was declared Miss Universe Colombia earlier this year, and she has certainly delivered. Ayos is probably the most polished among the Latinas vying for the crown this year, and her performance in the preliminary competition was also one of the best. Her biggest appeal now, though, is that she’s a staunch environmentalist, and we can see her taking Miss Universe’s new sustainability initiatives and advocacies even further.
Another early favorite who deftly managed to live up to the hype. Botino nearly didn’t make it to the competition at all; she tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after landing in Israel, therefore needing to be observed in isolation. For several days, nobody was sure if she would be well enough to return to the competition in time, until she was released from isolation a few days before the prelims. She also used her time in quarantine well, posting endearing clips of her wearing the outfits she’d have worn if she were outside, and the moment she was cleared to come back into the fold, she instantly proved why the fans fell in love with her in the first place. She aced the prelims and it would be surprising if she didn’t place high in the finals.
India has been hungry for another Miss Universe crown for the past 20 years and this could be the year they finally get another one. She’s beautiful, elegant, and very articulate; we could really see her as an excellent ambassador for the modern Miss Universe brand. Sandhu is the most promising among all the Asian delegates this year and if she keeps her trajectory all the way to the finals, she could start the coming week with the Mouawad crown on her head.
Easily the buzziest candidate pre-arrival, our expectations of her have tempered slightly now after the girls have all gotten together. Not because she failed to meet any of the early expectations, but because many of the other ladies have proven to be up to the challenge as well. Ferreira did decently in the preliminary competition and we’re almost sure it clinched her a spot in the top 16. Although she doesn’t dominate the conversation anymore, we can still see her winning Paraguay’s first Miss Universe crown, provided she brings her A-game to the finals.
Beatrice Luigi Gomez
We honestly would have placed her on this list no matter what (We root for her, okay), but Gomez actually proved that she really does deserve it. She came into the competition bearing the weight of Filipino fans’ sometimes insane expectations and demands; and we think she’s done a pretty good job of hitting all her marks admirably so far. She did well in the prelims, and we think she really found a way to stand out, especially in her evening gown (we think her styling was smart: her red dress was memorable and in a sea of pageant blowouts, her edgy knot made sure that she didn’t look like anybody else.) We hope to see this Cebuana turn it out even more in the finals.
Colón is another early fan favorite, and when the competition started, she managed to be even better than we expected. She has all of the trappings of the classic boricua beauty queen: tall, confident, polished, drop-dead gorgeous.
In the preliminary competition, she showed that she has an irresistible spark that could take her all the way to the top if she brings it to the finals. We have always felt that she would do really well, but she’s one of the few girls we think really, really has a shot at the crown.
Everything she’s done since landing in Eilat reaffirms everything pageant fans loved about her when she won the Miss South Africa competition. Mswane has an undeniable elegance that really shone through during the evening gown preliminaries, and based on what we’ve seen from her since she won her national crown, she will for sure deliver in the interview portions. We see her as a top contender—if South Africa’s thing now is winning every other year, then they absolutely made the right choice in sending her.
Easily one of the most facially stunning in this group of facially stunning women, she’s done really well for herself beyond the initial hype heaped upon her. She’s charismatic, she’s articulate, and her advocacies (recycling and marine pollution awareness) dovetail neatly with the Miss Universe Organization’s celebrated causes. Spain hasn’t won in Miss Universe since Amparo Munoz in 1974, and we won’t be surprised if she clinches the next one.
Nguyen Huynh Kim Duyen
Duyen is the strongest Miss Universe Vietnam since 2018, when H’hen Nie finished in the top 5. Drop-dead gorgeous with a sizzling stage presence, she could walk circles around most of these ladies in terms of runway presentation. She definitely knows how to use her body and it has never been more apparent than it was in the prelims, wherein she was a clear standout in both the swimsuit and evening gown portions. If this Vietnamese beauty keeps this up, and if she excels in the interview rounds, we can definitely see her placing really high.