DUBAI: Congratulations are in order for South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi who won the Miss Universe 2019 competition in Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios on Dec. 8.
The newly-minted Miss Universe beat out 89 other hopeful contestants, including Miss Egypt Diana Hamed, at the televised ceremony hosted by television presenter Steve Harvey to claim the crown at the annual beauty pageant, simultaneously making history as the first black woman hailing from South Africa to ever win the prestigious title. Additionally, she is also the first black woman to claim the title since Angola’s Leila Lopes who took home the crown in 2011.
The ecstatic 26-year-old was crowned by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who hails from The Philippines. Miss Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson was the first runner-up, followed by Miss Mexico, Sofia Aragon who was the second runner-up.
Shortly after she was announced as the winner, Tunzi was presented with the Miss Universe sash and a striking diamond-encrusted crown from Lebanese jewelry house Mouawad — the jeweler behind the iconic Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bras — which was tasked with creating this year’s diadem. Entitled “the power of unity,” the stunning 18-karat gold crown set with 1,770 diamonds sat beautifully atop the newly-minted Miss Universe’s textured buzz cut.
“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,” shared Tunzi in her closing statement, adding “And I think that it is time that it stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want to see their faces reflected in mine.”
Tunzi is the third South African to win Miss Universe and the second in three years, following in the footsteps of Miss Universe 2017 Demi Leigh Nel-Peters, who hails from Sedgefield. She joins Margaret Gardiner, who was the first South African to claim the title in 1978.
The beauty queen, who was born in Tsolo, Eastern Cape, is a holder of a bachelor's degree in public relations and image management from Cape Peninsula University of Technology. An activist and humanitarian, Tunzi also petitions against gender-based violence through the "HeForShe" campaign in partnership with the South African arm of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality, which aims to tackle the alarming rates of femicide and gender-based violence in the country.
As the winner of the 2019 Miss Universe title, she will receive a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, which will see her travel overseas to perform charity work and raise awareness for diseases and education.
She will also receive room and board in a luxury apartment in New York City plus cash allowance for her entire reign, a New York Film Academy scholarship, a modeling portfolio with WME IMG, which happens to be the Miss Universe parent organization, a year supply of beauty products, a custom-styled new wardrobe and healthcare, as well as invitations to events such as fashion shows, movie premieres and opening galas throughout New York.