American comedian and Daytime Emmy Award-winning host Steve Harvey finally set foot on Philippine soil on Saturday, two days ahead of his big hosting duties for the 65th Miss Universe coronation on Monday.
Harvey—who made the infamous blunder in 2015 when he declared then-Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the 2015 Miss Universe instead of the Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach—arrived via a chartered flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport past 9 a.m. He was welcomed by Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre and former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit Singson, president of LCS Holdings and the man responsible for bringing the franchise to the country.
In a press statement, the DOT said they it is happy, honored and proud to have the Family Feud and Little Big Shots host in the country.
“The popular American actor-comedian has millions of excited fans in the Philippines, who look forward to having him host/emcee the 65th Miss Universe Coronation on Monday, when the universe, tune in on this ‘thrilla in Manila.’ In the tradition of genuine Filipino hospitality, we extend our hand of friendship,” DOT said.
The agency then assured Harvey that he will be “embraced as a family” by the Filipinos.
After realizing his Miss Universe gaffe in Las Vegas Nevada, Harvey immediately retracted his announcement, causing Gutierrez to give up the crown on the same night. The host has been forgiven by Gutierrez and
Wurtzbach. In fact, the two beauty queens have separately sat down with the host to talk about the blunder in his eponymous TV show.
Early this year, when it was confirmed that the pageant would be held in the country, Harvey reportedly talked to the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) to tell them that he would still take the job so he could “personally apologize to the Filipinos.” Harvey was also reported to have inked a multi-year contract with MUO before his first appearance as the host in 2015.
Harvey will join backstage correspondent Ashley Graham, who is already in Manila, Bretman Rock who will host the red carpet arrivals; and Miss Universe 2010 4th Runner-Up Venus Raj who will serve as digital correspondent.
Also on Saturday, Malacanang expressed its full support to Miss Universe-Philippines Maxine Medina as it sent its “heartfelt felicitations” to all the candidates of the international beauty pageant.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella wished Medina all the best and lauded her for “working very hard and giving her best in a competition that promotes goodwill and friendship among nations.”
“As the country’s representative, Maxine is able to show the beauty, warm, hope and dignity of the Filipino. We are truly proud of her,” Abella said in a radio interview.
“We convey our most heartfelt felicitations for all the Miss Universe candidates and especially cheer and throw our support for the Ms. Philippines candidate, Maxine Medina,” he added.
The Palace official said it was an honor for the Philippines to host the international beauty pageant.