The Colombian contestant was already wearing this year’s Miss Universe crown when host Steve Harvey returned to announce on live television that he had mistakenly read from a cue card, and that the contestant from the Philippines was actually this year’s winner.
“I feel horrible for this young woman,” he said.
Harvey said it was his mistake and that he would take responsibility for not correctly reading the card, which said that Wurtzbach was this year’s winner and Colombia was actually the first runner-up.
Wurtzbach appeared stunned as she walked to the front of the stage alongside the crown-wearing Arevalo before last year’s Miss Universe from Colombia removed the crown and placed it on Wurtzbach’s head.
Wurtzbach later said she felt conflicting emotions as the mistake happened: joy when she was told she had indeed won, concern for Colombia contestant Ariadna Gutierrez Aravelo and confusion at the whole situation.
Wurtzbach said she tried to approach Aravelo onstage afterward, but the Colombian was crying and surrounded by a crowd of women. She said she realized it was, “probably bad timing.”
“I did not take the crown from her,” Wurtzbach told reporters after the pageant concluded, saying she wished the contestant from Colombia well and hoped the Latin American community understands that “none of this was my fault.”
Philippines presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda didn’t address the controversial win but said, “in bagging this victory, Ms. Wurtzbach not only serves as a tremendous source of pride for our people, but also holds up the banner of our women and of our country-as a true representative of what the Filipina can achieve.”
It’s the third time a contestant from the Philippines has won the title. It could have been the second win in a row for Colombia.