Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters crowned Miss Universe 2017

A South African woman who helps train women in self-defence was crowned Miss Universe at the pageant held in Las Vegas.

Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett was second runner-up and Miss Columbia Laura Gonzalez was runner-up. Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere from France was on hand to crown the winner from The Axis at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Three days of preliminary interviews along with a swimsuit and evening gown presentation show took place before the live broadcast.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters who unleashed a big smile when she won, hails from Western Cape Province and recently earned a business management degree from North-West University.

During the competition, the 22-year-old wowed the judges with her brains, beauty and charisma.

Her passion for self-defence was reinforced when she was hijacked and held at gunpoint about a month after winning her title as Miss South Africa, she said in a video on the Miss Universe website.

Soon after Sunday night’s show began, the 16 semi-finalists and then Top 10 were named. They went on to compete in swimwear, evening gown, final question and final look.

Before reading the winner off the paper, Harvey made reference to his headline-making gaffe in 2015 when he accidentally called out Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutiérrez as the winner, instead of Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.

When he was presented with the names of the winner tonight, Harvey joked to the contestants, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

In the Final Word round, Harvey asked, “What quality in yourself are you most proud of and how will you apply that quality to your time as Miss Universe?”

As Miss Universe you have to be confident in who you are as an individual. And Miss Universe is a woman that has overcome many fears and by that she is able to help other women to overconme their fears. She is a woman that nothing is ever too much to ask for and I think that is exactly who I am.”

According to her bio on the official Miss Universe website, Nel-Peters recently earned her degree in Business Management at North West University after making history at her high school for holding two leadership positions.

The judges included Ross Mathews, Lele Pons, Jay Manuel, Megan Olivi, Pia Wurtzbach and Wendy Fitzwilliam.

Ninety-two women from around the world, including Miss USA Kára McCullough (formerly Miss District of Columbia), competed in the annual event.

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The 2017 Miss Universe Top 10 were Miss Venezuela, Miss USA, Miss Philippines, Miss Canada, Miss South Africa, Miss Spain, Miss Brazil, Miss Colombia, Miss Thailand and Miss Jamaica.

Earlier in the competition, the contestants modeled some seriously stunning evening gowns at a preliminary competition.

Fergie and Rachel Platten performed onstage, while model Ashley Graham served as a backstage host with Carson Kressley.

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