Lawyers for Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, are preparing to sue the New York-based pageant organizer, The Miss Universe Organization, and the coronation night’s host, Steve Harvey, for a controversial mix-up that was watched live by millions worldwide.
Harvey, an American comedian, TV host and radio jock, initially announced Gutiérrez as the winner of the pageant, only to acknowledge moments later that he had misread the cue card. The glittering crown was then promptly placed on Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach’s head.
Right after the drama-filled coronation night, Bogotá-based De La Espriella Lawyers Enterprise announced on Twitter that two of its lawyers are filing a lawsuit against the pageant.
“The crown is an acquired right that cannot be taken away from us,” read the company’s tweet. “At this moment we’re writing the lawsuit.”
No less than Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz agreed with De La Espriella’s move, but said Harvey should pay a fine of $100,000 to Wurtzbach as well.
Wurtzbach also felt a moment of awkwardness in front of millions of viewers, Diaz claimed in an interview on “TV Patrol.”
Lawyer Lorna Kapunan said Colombia has the right to file charges.
“I think they should file for damages because of national humiliation. That’s a disgrace for the country. If I were them, I would sue,” she pointed out. “You know, Colombia has extreme national pride. And they cannot only sue the emcee, but also the whole pageant organizer.”
Kapunan, however, disagreed that Philippines should also get a hefty fine from Harvey.
She argued that the Filipinos should be as gracious as Wurtzbach who already expressed her sympathy to Gutiérrez and understanding to the organizer.
“I think now is not the time to sue each other. Now is the time, in the spirit of the Miss Universe pageant, to be gracious and promote universal peace,” Kapunan told The Manila Times.
She said, “Her first official act is to heal broken hearts and wounded feelings. After almost half a century, hindi natin pwedeng gatungan ’yung [we can’t add fuel to]‘We will sue the Miss Universe pageant.’”
Colombia’s President shared his dismay on Monday after his country’s beauty queen was wrongly named Miss Universe.
Juan Manuel Santos said he was shocked by the episode, which made the front pages of the country’s main newspapers.
“I was watching Miss Universe with my family,” Santos told Radio Nacional. “Our queen was marvelous. She looked spectacular. It was such a disappointment when the host said he’d made a mistake.”
“To me, our queen is and will remain Miss Universe. They put the crown on her head. The photos are there to prove it. To me, as a Colombian, she is still Miss Universe.”
Santos had publicly celebrated a year ago when the previous Miss Colombia, Paulina Vega Dieppa, won the Miss Universe 2014 title.
Colombia-born film star Sofia Vergara, said to be America’s highest-paid TV actress, posted a photo of Gutierrez on Instagram, with a Spanish caption that read “queen all the same.”
‘Nation of beautiful people’
Notwithstanding the controversy, Wurtzbach’s victory helped define the Philippines as a nation.
Professor Andrew Evangelista from the University of the Philippines’ Diliman campus in Quezon City, an expert in queer sociology and popular culture, said Filipinos have always been fans of beauty contests primarily because “we want to imagine ourselves as a nation of beautiful people.”
“I think pageants like this help validate that kind of notion that, indeed, we are beautiful people because it confirms now to other nations that we can compete and win in the Miss Universe [beauty pageant],” Evangelista noted in an interview on “News To Go.”
He said he believes that many people seethed because they were expecting this prestigious pageant to be perfect. Nonetheless, the win of Wurtzbach will be “iconic” because of the drama on coronation night.
“That moment will become an icon. I can see a lot of comedy materials, for example, that will be written about this. It will be part of many icons in popular culture because it’s the first time that it happened,” Evangelista explained.
He said that fallout from emcee Steve Harvey’s blunder will result in positive benefits for Colombia’s already strong beauty industry.
“I hope they will train more instead of feeling [bitter about the whole thing],” according to Evengelista.
Meanwhile, he agreed with Diaz, saying Wurtzbach “is also entitled to a lawsuit.”
“Because she also experienced a certain kind of awkwardness on stage,” Evangelista also explained. “[It was] humiliating [especially for Gutiérrez]. And the psychological effect of that on a person is traumatic.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon also on Tuesday filed a resolution congratulating and commending Wurtzbach, the third Filipino to win the coveted title.
In Senate Resolution 1698, Drilon said Wurtzbach, in winning the crown last worn by a Filipina 42 years ago, has brought great honor and glory to the country and the people worthy of the praise and commendation of the chamber.
The Filipina beauty queen bested 79 other contestants from around the world.
The other Filipinos crowned Miss Universe were Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.
Drilon said Wurtzbach’s previous defeat, when she joined the Binibining Pilipinas pageant in 2013 and 2014 but failing to win the Miss Universe-Philippines title, did not discourage her as she joined the pageant for the third time in 2015 and eventually won the crown.
“The Filipina beauty queen’s positive attitude and strong determination to fulfil her dream of winning the 2015 Miss Universe title are indeed positive example and great inspiration to her countrymen, particularly the youth, that no dream is impossible as long as he or she puts his or her heart and mind into it,” he added.
“Her firm belief that being a Miss Universe is both an honor and a responsibility to humanity as well as an opportunity to show the universe that she is confidently beautiful with a heart is a clear manifestation of her deep concern for the fate of her fellowmen,” Drilon said.
Int’l celebrities weigh in
Filipinos and Colombians are not the only ones shocked at Harvey’s infamous gaffe at the coronation night of Miss Universe 2015 on Sunday night (Monday morning in Manila) in Las Vegas.
The American emcee mistakenly announced Colombia’s Gutierrez as the winner instead of Philippines’ Wurtzbach as the true Miss Universe 2015.
As it turned out, celebrities also took to social media, sharing their thoughts on arguably the most embarrassing moment on live television.
Here are their two cents’ worth:
Former supermodel and America’s Next Top Model creator Tyra Banks on her Twitter account (@tyrabanks) posted a photo of Wurtzbach with the caption: “Dang, girl. You betta #SMIZE [smiling with the eyes], @PiaWurtzbach for the win, girl! #MissUniverse2015 #MissPhilippines #Pinoy.”
American singer and producer Josh Groban (@joshgroban) also posted, “Look, that #MissUniverse2015 ending was awkward as hell. But happy for the Philippines and second place is still for the WHOLE UNIVERSE.”
Up and coming actress and model Chloë Grace Moretz (@ChloeGMoretz), the moment Miss Colombia was mistakenly announced as the winner, tweeted, “Miss Philippines deserves that she felt so genuine and real.” And when she found out that Wurtzbach was indeed the winner immediately posted, “Oh my god what just happened.”
Actress Barbie Hsu, best known to Filipinos as San Cai of the popular Taiwanese drama Meteor Garden, on her Twitter account (@itsbarbiexu) posted, “I felt that Ms. Philippines crowning moment was stolen & she apologized even if it’s not her fault. So humble!”
Meanwhile, TV star Vergara posted a photo of her countrywoman on her Instagram account (@sofiavergara) wearing the Miss Universe crown and captioned it, “La Reina de todos modos @gutierrezary #Colombia,” which translates to, “Still the queen.”
Finally, Canadian singer Justin Beiber, also on Instagram under his account @justinebeiber, took light of the situation and posted his photo swapped with Harvey’s face and accompanied with the text, “Is it too late now to say sorry?” from his hit song “Sorry”. He captioned the post as, “It’s so sad but this is too funny had to post no disrespect.”
WITH CHRISTINA ALPAD AND AFP