France crowned Miss Universe 2017
today Jan 30, 2017
France won its first Miss Universe crown in 64 years on Monday in a made-for-television spectacle where finalists spoke out on the refugee crisis and other hot-button global issues.
Iris Mittenaere, a dental surgery student from Lille in the north of France, beat 85 of the world's most beautiful women at the event in the Philippines scheduled for primetime viewing in the United States.
Mittenaere, 24, edged out Miss Haiti, the first runner-up, and Miss Colombia, the second runner-up, to win France's first Miss Universe title since 1953.
"I was very surprised. I am always touching the crown and saying 'Oh my God. I have the crown on my head. I don't believe it,'" Mittenaere said in a post-pageant news conference.
"French people love beauty pageants but they don't really know Miss Universe because never (did) our country win," she said, adding she would advocate for good hygiene and educating children.
In the final question round, the six remaining contestants were each asked questions relating to various political issues in their own countries or abroad.
When asked about the global refugee crisis, Mittenaere said France had the right to close its borders to refugees if it wanted but she also spoke about the benefits of migration.
"In France we want to have the most globalisation that we can. We want to have the biggest exchange of people that we can. Maybe someday that will change but now we have open borders," Mittenaere said, with her comments translated into English for the audience.
"Having open borders allows us to travel more through the world and to find out more about what's out there in the world."
Miss Kenya, another finalist, said Donald Trump's presidency "may not have been the choice of many people" in the United States. "So many people oppose his position. But I feel that once (Trump) took up his position, he was able to unify the entire nation," said Mary Esther Were, 27.
Miss Colombia appeared to allude to Trump when asked why violence was prevalent in the world.
"Although there are presidents who don't get along with others, we work together to unite. Campaigns, respect and inclusivity to be able to have a social transformation that would educate our children," said Andrea Tovar, 23.
Monday's show was headlined by US performers including Grammy award-winning rhythm and blues group Boyz II Men and rapper and Grammy award nominee Flo Rida.
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