Iris Mittenaere, the 24-year-old winning contestant from France, was crowned the new Miss Universe at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines on January 29, 2017. The Miss Universe Competition is a series of pageant style contests held throughout the world designed to instill the beauty of confidence in its participants and titleholders. Women that go through the Miss Universe system are mentored to cultivate their personal career goals, advocate for humanitarian issues, and be a voice to affect positive change in the world.
Miss Universe Mittenaere’s crowning was the culmination of the three-hour special event was hosted by Emmy Award winning actor Steve Harvey and model, designer, and body activist Ashley Graham backstage. Four-time Grammy Award-winning R&B group Boyz II Men performed along with Grammy Award nominee and multi-platinum hip-hop artist Flo Rida. Over 100 million viewer votes were tallied to determined which contestant would make the Top 13.
Mittenaere was honored to bring home the crown and stated after the show, “I think France and Europe really need a Miss Universe.” She thinks her win will help boost pageant popularity again in her native France. “French people will love it now and every year they will be watching Miss Universe,” she added.
Iris Mittenaere’s victory marks the first time a Frenchwoman has won the Miss Universe competition in 63 years, seen below.
Iris Mittenaere was born in the Calais region of northern of France in a town called Lille, and currently resides in Paris. She has been pursuing her degree in Dental Surgery there for the past five years, in addition to her duties as Miss Universe-France for the past year.
When asked what quality makes someone confidently beautiful, Mittenaere replied, “Beauty shines from the inside out. Be kindhearted, believe in moral values, have confidence in myself, but also admit my flaws, that is the way to work on myself and become confidently beautiful.”
The new Miss Universe has always been fond of extreme sports, travelling the world, and the French culinary arts.
Mittenaere has joked that as Miss Universe-France she has already traveled the world four times over, and also offered to cook a gourmet dinner for married host Steve Harvey, which he politely declined on account of not wanting a divorce.
As Miss Universe, Mittenaere wants to advocate for access to education and children’s rights. Additionally, as a fifth year dental student, she also wants to continue her awareness campaign for dental and oral care, taking her campaign all around the world. Dental health is a severe problem in developing and impoverished regions of the world where there is little access to supplies like toothbrushes or even potable water.
Iris Mittenaere enjoys making others happy, especially when volunteering at Bienvenue-Tongasoa and Les Bonnes Fées. She believes in supporting children’s access to education and hopes to champion advancements in the field.
Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere stated prior to winning that she hoped to use her platform to advocate for dental and oral hygiene, drawing on her education and career as a dental surgeon. Helping advance education around the world, especially for other women and girls, is another priority of the newly crowned Miss Universe.
For the first time this year, the Miss Universe celebrity red carpet was streamed live on MissUniverse.com prior to the competition. Throughout the live telecast, highlights and live updates were given to the millions of viewers watching. Additionally, the Miss Universe created a backstage lounge provided a unique digital experience for viewers around the world to see what happens behind-the-scenes with host Ashley Graham.
Eighty-six women represented their countries in this year’s Miss Universe competition, which culminated in Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach crowning her successor Iris Mittenaere. Last year host Steve Harvey famously declared the runner-up as the winner, causing heartbreak and shock as he corrected the error only after crowning Miss Columbia-Universe Ariadna Gutierrez. The Columbian titleholder had to hold back tears as she was stripped of her crown on stage so that Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach, could wear it.
Who competed from the USA?: This year’s Miss USA is Washington, D.C. native Deshauna Barber, who is the first woman actively serving in the US Army Reserve to win the title.
The Judges who Crowned Miss Universe:
Cynthia Bailey: Former model and founder of The Bailey Agency School of Fashion, a modeling and fashion school dedicated to helping young women achieve their dreams; current cast member on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
Mickey Boardman: Editorial Director and advice columnist for PAPER magazine.
Leila Lopes: First Miss Universe from Angola and former United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Desertification; currently working with various charitable organizations in Africa.
Francine LeFrak: Emmy and Tony Award-winning producer, social entrepreneur, women’s empowerment activist and founder of Same Sky, an initiative that provides training and employment to HIV+ women survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
Sushmita Sen: Bollywood actress, philanthropist and champion of women’s rights in India; founder of I AM Foundation; and first-ever Miss Universe from India.
Dayanara Torres: Former UNICEF ambassador, writer, singer, model, actress and former Miss Universe from Puerto Rico.
The Final Competition Results:
First Runner-Up: Miss Universe Haiti Raquel Pelissier
Second Runner-Up: Miss Universe Colombia Andrea Tovar
Top Three: Miss Universe Colombia Andrea Tovar; Miss Universe France Iris Mittenaere; Miss Universe Haiti Raquel Pelissier.
Top Six: Miss Universe France Iris Mittenaere; Miss Universe Kenya Mary Esther Were; Miss Universe Colombia Andrea Tovar; Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina; Miss Universe Thailand Chalita Suansane; Miss Universe Haiti Raquel Pelissier.
Top Nine: Miss Universe USA Deshauna Barber; Miss Universe Thailand Chalita Suansane; Miss Universe France Iris Mittenaere; Miss Universe Mexico Kristal Silva; Miss Universe Kenya Mary Esther Were; Miss Universe Colombia Andrea Tovar; Miss Universe Canada Siera Bearchell; Miss Universe Haiti Raquel Pelissier; Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina.
Top Thirteen: Miss Universe Kenya Mary Esther Were; Miss Universe Indonesia Kezia Warouw; Miss Universe USA Deshauna Barber; Miss Universe Mexico Kristal Silva; Miss Universe Peru Valeria Piazza; Miss Universe Panama Keity Drennan; Miss Universe Colombia Andrea Tovar; Miss Universe Philippines Maxine Medina; Miss Universe Canada Siera Bearchell; Miss Universe Brazil Raissa Santana; Miss Universe France Iris Mittenaere; Miss Universe Haiti Raquel Pelissier; Miss Universe Thailand Chalita Suansane.
Comment below with who your favorite contestant was and let us know what you thought about Miss Universe 2016!