France just won its first Miss Universe crown in 64 years on Monday, in a three-hour long television spectacle where finalists spoke about diversity, refugee crisis and top global issues. The 24-year-old, Iris Mittenaere, who is pursuing a degree in dental surgery from Lille in the north of France, beat 85 of the world’s most beautiful women at the event in the Philippine capital.
The first runner-up edged out of Haiti, Raquel Pelisseier while Andrea Tovar of Colombia presented as second runner-up. Thirteen contestants were picked for the swimsuit round of the finals after the introductory competition a week earlier, cutting down to nine for the evening gown segment and later to six.
“I was very surprised. I am always touching the crown and saying ‘Oh my God. I have the crown on my head. I don’t believe it,'” Mittenaere said in a post-pageant news conference.
“French people love beauty pageants but they don’t really know Miss Universe because never (did) our country win,” she added.
Moreover, in the concluding round, the six remaining contestants were asked questions regarding various political issues in their home countries or abroad. When asked about the global refugee crisis, Mittenaere said France had the right to close its borders to refugees if it wanted but she also spoke about the advantages of migration.
“In France we want to have the most globalisation that we can. We want to have the biggest exchange of people that we can. Maybe someday that will change but now we have open borders,” Mittenaere said.
“Having open borders allows us to travel more through the world and to find out more about what’s out there in the world.”
Whereas, another finalist, Miss Kenya said Donald Trump’s presidency “may not have been the choice of many people” in the United States.
“So many people oppose his position. But I feel that once (Trump) took up his position, he was able to unify the entire nation,” said Mary Esther Were.