Two former Miss USAs weigh on pageant’s new format

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Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan (left) and Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez

Nia Sanchez and Olivia Jordan in Manila to host ‘Miss Universe Insider’

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Viewers and solid followers of the annual Miss Universe pageant will surely have different takes on the changes, which will take place in the 65th edition today. Following now US President Donald Trump’s sale of the Miss Universe Organization to WME IMG in September 2015, what has been touted as the “world’s biggest talent and entertainment agency” promised to break stereotypes of beauty contests beginning with adjustments in the selection process.

It can be remembered that between the years 2003 and 2015, the first set of finalists selected made up the Top 15; with a “Fan Vote” finalist earning a 16th spot from 2011 to 2013. This year, however, the preliminary competition, which took place Thursday night, determines a smaller circle via the Top 12.

From this Top 12, the Top 9 will be determined by averaging the scores of the judges and online fans votes after the swimsuit segment. After that, the finalists are whittled down to Top 6 by averaging the judges and online fans votes following the evening gown segment.

Moreover, candidates would be called by fours rather than one by one.

As “minimal” as these changes may seem to general spectators, they have put some pageant fans in dismay. There are those who say they lessen the chances of their representatives to compete in the live finals.

At a roundtable on Thursday, The Manila Times learned that two former Miss USA titleholders, Nia Sanchez (2014) and Olivia Jordan (2015) agree with this particular concern. The American beauty queens were flown in by pageant sponsor PLDT to host PLDT Home’s Miss Universe Insider online where they are tasked to giving updates on today’s competition.

Traditionalists
According to Jordan, the narrowing down of the number of finalists is disappointing as one spot is still huge opportunity for a candidate.

“I am very traditionalist. I have a very hard time with changes, and so for me, to have four women walk in the bikini competition at a time opens up immediate comparisons, so that it becomes ‘whose body do you like most’ on stage. I don’t like that because I think every candidate should have their moment to shine on stage,” Jordan explained.

Sanchez, meanwhile, feels that whittling down the number of finalists will surely leave a strong candidate out of the circle, but on the other hand, she sees the new selection process to land the best of the best right away.

“I’m also very traditionalist. I wish it was 15, or even when I competed for Miss USA we had a Top 20. From that number, it went down to 10 and then five, which meant more girls had the opportunity to shine on stage because there are so many beautiful women competing in every pageant,” Sanchez shared.

Much as she sees WME IMG working to put its own stamp in the Miss Universe pageant as the organization’s new owners, but maintained, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it as they say. I think that you don’t need to change things when they’re going well, but I understand their need for innovation,” said Jordan.

Next-time tourists
Despite the changes, the pair of Miss USA’s are still very excited to be part of the all-new Miss Universe pageant today, and eager to see who will be the next titleholder.

Busy with preparations since last week’s preliminary competitions, Sanchez and Jordan’s only regret is not being able to see more of the Philippines. And since they are headed home the day after coronation, their hope is to return to this beautiful country as tourists someday soon.

Their top destinations? The beaches of course.

“We want to come back because we didn’t get the chance to see your beautiful islands! It’s been on my bucket list to go to Boracay and Palawan for the longest time. I’ve known about your Philippines even before 2011 and 2012 when I lived in Hong Kong where all of my co-workers were Filipinos. I’d see pictures of them when they visited home, and I was like, ‘How can I go’?” Sanchez ended with a laugh.

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