At Wednesday's preliminary competition for the Miss Universe pageant at FIU Arena, I snapped photos of beauty queens, their families and friends, and some very loud fans of the 88 contestants vying for the shiny crown and all the perks that come with it. Not since the World Cup have I seen so many people express pride in their countries.
During the show, I also got a quick geography lesson when the Miss Universe contestants from Mauritius and Myanmar came onstage. Seriously, can you point out those places on a map?
But I’d really like to share why my ears still hurt.
I thought Colombia was going to win the award for loudest supporters as I watched red, blue and yellow flags wave in the air and screams fill the arena the three times Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega, appeared onstage. I was waiting for someone to shout, “Goalllllllllllllllllll!” but then remembered I was covering a pageant owned by Donald Trump.
It was only when Miss Venezuela, Migbelis Castellanos, introduced herself to the audience that I wished I had brought earplugs. The support for Castellanos was overwhelming.
Judging from the continuing screams and shouts, other crowd pleasers were: Miss USA Nia Sanchez, Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell, Miss Italy Valentina Bonariva, Miss Thailand Pimbongkod Chankaew, Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa, Miss Puerto Rico Gabriela Berrios and Miss Spain Desiree Cordeo. You can find out who survived the preliminary when the pageant airs 8 p.m. Sunday on NBC.
A fellow reporter sitting next to me commented that one of the contestants is not “pretty enough to win,” which totally confused me. He must need glasses. All the contestants are gorgeous, so unbelievably beautiful in their flowing gowns and skimpy bikinis that I started feeling insecure. Note to self: Tomorrow, hit the gym!
I learned a few interesting tidbits about the contestants. Some are silly: Miss Japan Keiko Tsuji loves Christina Aguilera and considers herself a heartbreaker; Miss Malaysia Sabrina Beneett grew up on a farm where she enjoyed taking care of cows and goats. Some are impressive: Miss Kazakhstan Aiday Issayeva is a future doctor; Miss Nicaragua Marline Barberena was the first in her family to graduate from high school.