The first Miss Universe pageant since Donald Trump sold the organization in September is set to air Sunday night on Fox.
This year’s 64th annual pageant ends a year-long run for the current Miss Universe from Colombia, Paulina Vega, who will crown her successor this weekend. It also ends an unprecedented year of controversy surrounding the pageant and its past owner, Trump, whose likening of some Mexican immigrants to rapists and drug dealers led Univision and NBC to stop airing his pageants. That decision eventually led Trump to sell the Miss Universe Organization to WME-IMG Talent Agency.
The controversy was especially tough for Vega, who spoke out against Trump’s controversial comments and felt pressure from the Latino community, and even Trump himself, to relinquish her crown. Vega criticized Trump, technically her boss, for his ‘unjust and hurtful’ comments about Mexican immigrants during his presidential announcement speech in June. Trump then called Vega a hypocrite for condemning his comments while declining to step down as Miss Universe.
In an interview with Fox News Latino, Vega reminisced about the rollercoaster year and said she doesn’t regret her decision to stay with the crown.
“He has his opinions and of course, I am Latin and I don’t agree with that,” Vega said. “He can call me whatever he wants, but I’m happy with my journey and he’s happy with the campaign. Of course, I’m not going to turn down my job. I have a new responsibility and new commitments. Why would I say ‘I quit’ just because of comments? I think that’s not fair.”
Vega said while she certainly had low moments, she didn’t let the controversy sour her entire year.
“It was just two or three weeks,” she said. “A little bit stressful, but besides that the conclusion is we agree to disagree.”
In the meantime Miss USA, 26-year-old Olivia Jordan of Oklahoma, was crowned on July 12. Viewership for this year’s pageant plummeted to an all-time low after Trump was forced to move his pageant from NBC to the Reelz Network. Less than a million people tuned in, sharply down from the 5.5 million who watched last year.
Still, Jordan says despite the drama Trump’s comments haven’t negatively affected her year, either.
“I can’t say that any part of my journey should have been different,” Jordan says. “I think ultimately we got caught in a political crossfire. You’re not always going to agree with your bosses’ political views.”
Both Jordan and Vega say they are both extremely grateful for the experiences they had traveling the world and helping charitable causes that fight Alzheimer’s and HIV/AIDS.
They are now both looking forward to Sunday – if things go well Jordan could be crowned by Vega to become the next Miss Universe.
“I really can’t believe everything is ending. Such a unique experience. Such an amazing experience. I learned more than I expected,” Vega said. “Don’t you want to be a better person every-day, a better professional, learn more? That was my dream this year… taking advantage of every moment, enjoying every moment.”