Was Miss Universe 2023 rigged? Netizens cry foul after Miss Philippines ‘swapped’ with Miss Thailand

Miss Universe 2023 on Sunday (November 19) was marred with claims from social media users that the international pageant was rigged after Miss Philippines was allegedly swapped with Miss Thailand in the Top 5.

Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild eventually emerged the first runner-up and Miss Australia Moraya Wilson was named the second runner-up. The coveted Miss Universe 2023 title went to Sheynnis Palacios from Nicaragua. It was the first time that Nicaragua won the Miss Universe pageant, which was held in San Salvador, El Salvador this year.

While fans congratulated Palacios on her win, many expressed disappointment that Miss Philippines Michelle Dee lost her chance to advance to the final round.

On social media, eagle-eyed fans shared screenshots of an Instagram post from Miss Universe showing that Miss Philippines Michelle Dee was among the Top 5 finalists. The post was reportedly deleted minutes later, with Dee replaced by Miss Thailand in the updated Top 5 list.

“Miss Universe page posted the official Top 5 and [Miss Philippines Michelle Dee] is in, but 10 minutes (later) it changed! Camera man knows it’s Philippines, focusing his camera on her for a long minute. They know the results. Someone is really doing humiliating acts inside Miss Universe,” a social media user from Brazil said in the comments of the Miss Universe page, echoing sentiments of many netizens.

“I think the people of the universe deserve some explanation,” pageant fan Russell Jacinto Corpuz commented.

American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow also expressed disappointment over Dee’s Miss Universe loss, saying on X, formerly Twitter: “Miss Philippines was robbed, shaking and crying.” Many fans agreed with him, with one user on the social media platform saying Dee “could’ve swallowed them all in that Q&A”.

There has been no official comment from Miss Universe on the allegations as of this publication.

This is not the first time that Miss Universe has been mired in controversy. In January, Miss USA contestants alleged that the competition had been rigged in favour of Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel, who later went on to win as Miss Universe 2022.

Miss Universe Organization and Gabriel have denied the rigging allegations, which stemmed from contestants pointing out to multiple conflicts of interest between Gabriel and Miss USA’s national sponsors, including Miss Academy, a pageant school where Gabriel had been a student for years, as well as sponsors Mia Beaute, which has featured Gabriel on its social media pages.

Miss Universe Organization also launched a third-party investigation that reported that Miss USA judges’ scores were accurately recorded and no winner was pre-selected.

In September, the winner of Miss Universe Vietnam faced similar allegations, with social media users pointing out that one of her interview answers matched Google search results. Bui Quyn Hoa denied that she had prior knowledge of the pageant interview questions.

Miss Universe Paula Shugart resigns as president

On Friday (November 17), Paula Shugart announced her resignation as the president of Miss Universe Organization. Shugart served as the organization’s president for 25 years. Esther Swan, who resigned from her post as Miss Universe Organization’s talent director last May, asserted that Shugart “will always remain supreme” after the latter announced her exit. ICA/Expat Media

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