Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios clinched the coveted title of Miss Universe 2023 during the grand finale of the annual beauty pageant held on Saturday night in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. Thailand’s Anntonia Porsild secured the position of first runner-up.
Contenders from 84 countries, winners of their respective national pageants, vied for the prestigious Miss Universe crown. The judging panel comprised model Halima Aden, “Queer Eye” star Carson Kressley, TikTok influencer Avani Gregg, and former Miss Universe winners Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad & Tobago (Miss Universe 1977) and Iris Mittenaere of France (Miss Universe 2016).
The evening kicked off with the announcement of twenty semi-finalists based on the results of the preliminary competition and a global fan vote. Following the swimsuit round, the field narrowed down to 10, witnessing the elimination of Miss Nepal, the first “curvy” contestant to reach the semi-finals and Miss Pakistan, the first contestant to don a burkini as her swimsuit. The evening gown round further reduced the contestant pool by half.
Two thought-provoking Q&A rounds ensued, ultimately leaving three contenders in the spotlight: Palacios, Porsild, and second runner-up Moraya Wilson of Australia. In the final round, when asked whom she would choose to spend a day in the life of, Palacios selected the 18th-century British philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. She praised Wollstonecraft for breaking boundaries and providing opportunities for women, asserting, “There are no limitations for women today,” conveyed through a translator.
Miss Colombia, Camila Avella, and Miss Puerto Rico, Karla Guilfú, secured positions in the top five, while Spain’s Athenea Pérez, a member of the top 10, was crowned Miss Congeniality.
Palacios now succeeds the 2022 Miss Universe, R’Bonney Gabriel of the USA.