South African representative, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, has been crowned Miss Universe 2017.
Nel-Peters was on Sunday night crowned during the event held at the AXIS theater at Planet Hollywood casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
She competed against 92 aspiring beauty queens from around the world in the decades-old competition said to have had the most contestants ever, including the first representatives in its history of Cambodia, Laos, and Nepal.
The 22-year-old would be the second South African to win the coveted title.
Nel-Peters earned a yearlong salary and a luxury apartment in New York City for the duration of her reign amongst other things.
The Western Cape native recently earned her degree in business management at North-West University.
In a pre-taped interview for the competition, Nel-Peters revealed she helped develop a program to train women in self-defense in various situations after she was robbed at gunpoint a month after being crowned as Miss South Africa.
During the question and answer session, the newly crowned Miss Universe was asked about the most important issue she thought was facing women in the workplace.
“In some places, women get paid 75% of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours — and I do not believe that this is right,” she said. “I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”
“I believe that men and women should come together and be professional.”
She also said she wants to champion other causes during her yearlong reign.
“HIV/AIDS is a very big problem in my country South Africa, so I hope to stand as an advocate for that,” she said after the event.
Nel-Peters didn’t shy away when asked to comment on sexual harassment.
“If women take hands and stand together, we are unbreakable and we can say no to the things that are wrong in the workplace, at home or wherever you might go.”
Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Spain, Ireland, Croatia, Great Britain, USA, Brazil, Canada, Philippines, Venezuela, and China emerged top 13 in the competition.
Colombia’s Laura Gonzalez was the first runner-up while Jamaica’s Davina Bennett finished as the second runner-up.