On Sunday, Indias’s Harnaaz Sandhu of India was crowned Miss Universe 2021, marking the end of a controversial pavement hosted this year in Israel.
In a speech on stage during the pageant, Harnaaz Sandhu urged young people to “know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful, stop comparing yourself to others.”
“I believed in myself, and that’s why I’m standing here today,” she added, to loud applause from the audience.
From around the world, 80 women were competing for the crown. The pageant was held in the resort city of Eilat, Israel. Sunday night was the last day of the competition.
Nadia Ferreira of Paraguay was the first runner-up and Lalela Mswane of South Africa was the second runner-up, respectively.
Steve Harvey was the host of the competition, who at one point in the night asked Harnaaz Sandhu, “I hear you do some pretty good animal impersonations, let’s hear your best one.” On this question, Harvey was later criticized online.
“Oh my god, Steve, I was not expecting to do this on the world stage. I have to do this, I have no other option. Brace yourselves, everyone,” she said looking surprised, before demonstrating a few meows.
When she reached in top 5 list, in the Q&A round, she took the opportunity to spread a message on climate change. “This is the time to take action and talk less,” she said. “Prevent and protect is better than repent and repair.”
After her win was announced, she celebrated with other contestants on stage, shouting to a camera, “Chak de Phatte India,” a Punjabi exclamation similar in meaning to “Let’s do this, India!”