Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned Miss Universe 2019 at the grand finale of the competition in Atlanta last night.
The 26-year-old is the first-ever black winner of the competition who fought off tough competition from runners up Madison Anderson of Puerto Rico and Sofia Aragon of Mexico. There was a real sense of women’s empowerment during the ceremony which saw many of the women talking about the opportunities that the competition has given them to speak out.
Tunzi is an activist who has a great passion for ending gender-based violence and promoting natural beauty amongst women. She told the audience “I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me — with my kind of skin and my kind of hair — was never considered to be beautiful. I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
Tunzi was presented the Miss Universe sash and crown by last year’s winner Catriona Gray from the Philippines. Gray also spoke of how winning Miss Universe has been a life-changing experience. She said “We’re getting this amazing platform to voice the things we’re passionate about, the things we care about. I always had a voice, but Miss Universe allowed me to amplify it.”
This year’s crown is named the “Power of Unity,” and was created by Lebanese jewellery house Mouawad. The Middle Eastern brand was inspired by the universal themes of nature, strength, femininity and unity to create the 18-carat gold design featuring 1,770 diamonds. The centrepiece is a golden stone weighing 62.83 carats.
The international beauty pageant was hosted by Steve Harvey at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta.