After stunning the judges at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi was crowned the winner of the 68th annual Miss Universe!
And the win – which was announced in the early hours of Monday morning – has caused South African Twitter to erupt with joy.
When Zozibini Tunzi found herself in the top three along with Miss Peurto Rico and Miss Mexico, even she must have hoped that Steve was not about to repeat his 2015 mistake where he announced the wrong winner.
Although Steve’s night did include a similar gaffe (we’ll get to that!), there were to be no errors this time when he revealed that the 26-year-old from the Eastern Cape was the newest incumbent of the Miss Universe crown.
The road to Miss Universe has been a well-publicised one for Zozibini.
Her preparations appeared to take a small hit when the country reacted to her national costume with mixed feelings, but in the end every bit of support was enough for her to not only compete in this year’s pageant, against hopefuls from 90 other nations, but she had also done enough to be fast-tracked into the top 20 on the night.
This year’s Miss Universe had the entire world talking for a number of reasons. The build-up to the grand finale saw people focusing on the slippery runway that saw several contestants take a tumble during the preliminary swimsuit segment, which took place over the weekend.
The likes of Miss France and Miss Malaysia managed to pick themselves up after taking a spill but this didn’t damage their overall chances of winning (in fact, Miss France made it to the top 10 despite this).
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PRELIMINARY SHOW – Hier soir j’ai vécu la pire hantise d’une Miss : tomber sur scène. Jusqu’ici ça ne m’était jamais arrivé, mais la vie nous réserve parfois des bonnes comme des mauvaises surprises. Il faut tirer une leçon de chaque expérience, et la leçon que j’en tire est que tomber et se relever est le principe même de la vie d’une femme, le principal c’est d’avancer peu importe les obstacles. Si tu tombes 9 fois relèves toi 10 fois et garde la tête haute ! Nos expériences nous font grandir, mûrir et nous rendent plus forte. 💪🏼 Je tiens à vous remercier pour vos messages et à vous rassurer je ne me suis pas blessée. Merci pour votre soutien, je vous aime ❤️❤️❤️ PRELIMINARY SHOW – Last night I experienced the worst obsession of a Miss: falling on stage. So far it has never happened to me, but life sometimes gives us good as bad surprises. A lesson must be learned from each experience, and the lesson I draw from it is that falling and standing up is the very essence of a woman’s life, the main thing is to move forward regardless of obstacles. If you fall 9 times raise 10 times and keep your head high! Our experiences make us grow, mature and make us stronger. 💪 I want to thank you for your messages and to reassure you I did not hurt myself. Thank you for your support, you are the best ❤ #missuniverse #missuniverse2019 #missfrance #staystrong #keepyourheadup #thankyou #proud
The 90 finalists were cut down to 20 hopefuls who then competed in a three-hour special which was broadcast live from Atlanta in Georgia, USA.
Another epic fail from Steve Harvey?
Steve Harvey was able to joke about his infamous 2015 faux-pas, which saw him announce the wrong winner of Miss Universe before he had to correct himself in front of millions of viewers.
The Family Feud host was more than willing to laugh at the incident four years later, but he must have kicked himself when he made a similar mistake; announcing the wrong winner of the national costume segment.
— alex rees (@maybealexislost) December 9, 2019
The speech that won the judges over
While others were stumbling to the floor or fumbling their words, Zozibini was quietly making a beeline for the crown.
If the world hadn’t already stood up and taken notice of her, they started to take her seriously as a contender when she reached the Top 5.
Similarly to how she performed when she won Miss South Africa, Zozibini’s honest and candid answer impressed judges and blew audiences away around the world.
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 9, 2019
With the momentum well and truly in her favour, Zozibini continued with her strong run to the final three as she issued a closing statement whose words reverberated around the planet:
The big moment
Before we knew it, the moment had finally arrived. Steve Harvey must have triple-checked his teleprompter to ensure that he was about to announce the correct winner of this year’s Miss Universe pageant.
As Zozibini held hands with Miss Peurto Rico, Madison Anderson, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. When she opened them, her life had changed forever as she was named as the 2019 Miss Universe.
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 9, 2019
South Africans who had stayed up to follow this year’s show quickly spread the news and congratulations have been pouring in from all corners of the globe after Zozibini’s massive victory.
Some of the country’s biggest celebrities, as well as the new Miss Universe’s biggest fans were full of compliments after her historic win:
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) December 9, 2019
I repeat. Nothing could ever beat natural AFRICAN beauty. NOTHING!!!
— New South Africa (@DjNewSouthAfric) December 9, 2019
From Miss South Africa to Miss Universe!!! Re Tsene maan!!!! 🤩🤩🤩🥳🥳🥳🕺🏽🕺🏽🕺🏽💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦🇿🇦 #MissUniverse2019 #zoziformissuniverse#ZozibiniTunzi #MissUniverseSouthAfrica @zozitunzi pic.twitter.com/vmkYbGAmQh
— Mohale Motaung 🥇 (@mohale_motaung) December 9, 2019
Great news to wake up to. Congratulations #MissUniverse2019 #ZozibiniTunzi. You inspire many young persons to believe in themselves, in possibilities and to lead for the world they want https://t.co/kZGHE5SAbx
— Prof Thuli Madonsela (@ThuliMadonsela3) December 9, 2019
Thank you @zozitunzi
— Ntandoyenkosi (@MthethwaNtando_) December 9, 2019
Congratulations to Zozibini Tunzi whose life has well and truly changed forever. South Africans are already making plans to meet our new Miss Universe when she arrives at OR Tambo International Airport in the coming weeks.
Did you predict that Zozibini Tunzi would win Miss Universe 2019?