In a dazzling display of grace and poise, Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua was crowned Miss Universe 2023, marking a historic first for her country in the prestigious international beauty pageant. The event, held on Saturday in the vibrant city of San Salvador, El Salvador, showcased the beauty and talents of women from across the globe.
Palacios, who had previously showcased her prowess in the 2017 Teen Miss Universe pageant, finishing in the top 10, and the 2021 Miss World pageant, emerged victorious among the 84 national winners competing for the coveted title.
The judging panel, comprising esteemed personalities such as model Halima Aden, “Queer Eye” icon Carson Kressley, TikTok star Avani Gregg, and former Miss Universe titleholders Janelle Commissiong (1977) and Iris Mittenaere (2016), were tasked with the challenging job of selecting the winner.
The night was filled with anticipation as twenty semi-finalists were announced following the preliminary competition and a global fan vote. The contest then moved on to the swimsuit round, where the competition narrowed to ten finalists.
Notably, this round included groundbreaking moments, such as Miss Nepal becoming the first "curvy" contestant in the semi-finals and Miss Pakistan opting for a burkini. Further intensifying the competition, the evening gown round halved the number of contestants.
Following two rounds of Q&A sessions focusing on hot topics, only three contestants remained in the running: Palacios, Anntonia Porsild of Thailand as the first runner-up, and Moraya Wilson of Australia securing the second runner-up spot.
Palacios' Empowering Choice
In her defining moment, Palacios chose to spend a day in the life of the 18th-century British philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, applauding her for breaking boundaries and empowering women.
Her statement, "There are no limitations for women today," delivered via a translator, resonated with the audience and judges alike. The event also celebrated other top contenders, with Miss Colombia, Camila Avella, and Miss Puerto Rico, Karla Guilfú, completing the top five.
Spain's Athenea Pérez, another top 10 finalist, was honored as Miss Congeniality. Sheynnis Palacios now takes over the mantle from the 2022 Miss Universe, R’Bonney Gabriel of the USA, embarking on a journey that promises to inspire and advocate for women globally, symbolizing beauty, intelligence, and the power of cultural diversity.