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This year’s Miss Universe pageant ended with a major victory for Africans.

Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, 22, won the coveted title of Miss Universe 2017. The event at The AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort in Las Vegas aired live on FOX Sunday night. She is only the second South African to garner enough votes to be crowned.

Nel-Peters, who recently earned a business management degree from North-West University, bested first runner-up Miss Colombia Laura González and second runner-up Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett. She addressed several important issues affecting women in the workplace and other areas during her interviews.

“In some places, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours — and I do not believe that this is right,” she said about the gender wage gap during the competition’s Q&A with host Steve Harvey. “I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”

Nel-Peters, a Western Cape native, opened up about a painfully poignant experience in her life during a pre-taped interview. She was held at gunpoint, a moment that taught her the value of women learning self-defense. She hopes to introduce a self-defense program that she developed to the Miss Universe event.

Though Nel-Peters proved impressive enough to take the crown, she faced some stiff competition. Gonzalez and Bennett also won praise from the judge and gave thoughtful answers to questions about terrorism and sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment is a form of abuse and no abuse should be tolerated whether in the workplace or in society,” Bennett said. “I believe that men and women should come together and be professional.”

Miss Universe’s top 13  finalists, representing countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka and Ghana, also held sway with the judging panel. This year’s competition featured more contestants than previous years with 92 ladies trying for the crown, according to the New York Daily News. Competitors were eliminated following swimsuit and evening gown modeling segments as well as a round of questions.

Harvey had no major hosting fails this year, but did mock his infamous botched announcement that crowned the wrong person as winner in 2015.

Nel-Peters won a yearlong salary, a luxury apartment in New York City for the duration of her reign and more prizes.

SOURCE: FOX, New York Daily News


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