Australian-born model Catriona Gray of the Philippines has been named winner of the Miss Universe 2018 competition in Bangkok.
She bested contestants from 93 other countries to claim the prize.
The 24-year-old Gray wore a sparkling red dress she said is inspired by a volcano in the Philippines as she was handed the crown to the delight of a roaring crowd that generally favoured Southeast Asian contestants.
Miss Universe 2018 is… PHILIPPINES! pic.twitter.com/r2BkN8JpXh
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) 17 December 2018
She said she wore red because “when I was 13 my mom said she had a dream that I would win Miss Universe in a red dress.” She said her mom cried when they saw each other after she won the competition, the 67th Miss Universe pageant.
Gray edged out first runner-up Tamaryn Green of South Africa and third-place Sthefany Gutierrez of Venezuela. She succeeds Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa.
In the Philippines, pageants are a popular attraction, and Gray’s countrymen watching the televised contest cheered wildly and jumped for joy when she was declared the winner.
Celebrations were especially buoyant in Oas town in the northeastern province of Albay, from which Gray’s Filipina mother hails. According to Gray, her gown’s design, with its lava colour and appearance, was influenced by Albay’s iconic Mayon Volcano.
Gray’s father is Australian, and she was born and grew up in Cairns. She studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the United States.
The office of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was quick to congratulate the winner. Gray is the fourth Filipina to be named Miss Universe.
“Ms Gray truly made the entire Philippines proud when she sashayed on the global stage and showcased the genuine qualities defining a Filipina beauty: confidence, grace, intelligence and strength in the face of tough challenges,” Duterte said in a statement from the presidential palace.
“In her success, Miss Philippines has shown to the world that women in our country have the ability to turn dreams into reality through passion, diligence, determination and hard work.”
An early round of questioning touched on the issue of drugs, where Duterte’s aggressive war on drugs has taken thousands of lives, many in what critics charge were extrajudicial executions.
Here’s Catriona Gray’s answer to “What is your opinion on the legalization of marijuana?” #MissUniverse
— Pinoy Big Brother (@ABSCBNPush) 17 December 2018
Asked what she thought about legalising marijuana, Gray said: “I’m for it being used for medical use, but not so for recreational use. Because I think if people will argue, then what about alcohol and cigarettes? Everything is good but in moderation.”
This year’s Miss Universe competition included the first-ever transgender contestant, Miss Spain Angela Ponce.
She said in a video presentation that it was not important for her to win but was more important for her “to be here.”
Striking a pose in the cutout red number.
One of the few controversies of this year’s contest involved Miss United States Sarah Rose Summers seeming to mock contestants from Cambodia and Vietnam over their English language skills. Summers apologised.
The theme of the 67th Miss Universe pageant was “Empowered Women” and was judged by seven women including former pageant winners, businesswomen, and a fashion designer.
About Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray of the Philippines
In an exciting finish to the finale, Miss Philippines Catriona Gray won the top spot at the Miss Universe 2018 pageant held at Impact, Muang Thong Thani, Pak Kret, Thailand.
Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa crowned her successor at the grand event.
Catriona Gray is the fourth Filipino to win the Miss Universe.
The 24-year-old Filipino-Australian beauty bagged the Miss Universe 2018 crown on Monday morning, making her countrymen proud like never before.
Besides being a model, Gray is also a television host and singer.
Gray was born in Cairns, Queensland to a Scottish-born Australian father, Ian Gray, from Fraserburgh, and a Filipino mother, Normita Ragas Magnayon, from Oas, Albay.
According to the official website of Miss Universe, Catriona Elisa Gray is known to spontaneously burst into song, which is most likely due to her love of the arts and her Master Certificate in Music Theory.
A great travel buddy and definitely not a “scaredy cat,” Catriona is always game for heart racing adventures. Zipline, anyone?
This beauty is openly passionate about her love for Filipino dishes including adobo, balut, and the sweetest mangoes in the world.
Catriona is an HIV/AIDS advocate at Love Yourself PH, and volunteers as a Teacher’s Assistant to the students of Young Focus NGO.
Gray is reportedly named after her paternal grandmother, Catherine Gray, an immigrant to Western Australia from Scotland in 1952.
The Top 3 finalists. Left to right: Miss Venezuela Sthefany Gutierrez, Miss South Africa Tamaryn Green and Miss Philippines Catriona Gray.
Catriona exclaims after her name is announced as Miss Universe 2018.
The crowning moment