Miss Universe 2023 crowned amid usual preliminary drama

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios Miss Universe 2023
Image: Miss Universe, X.

After the normal headline-generating preliminary drama, Miss Universe 2023 has been crowned. Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios began her reign a few hours ago.

But not before lots of drama – trans contestants, a plus size entrant, financial scandals and more.

Drama is a staple of beauty pageants. Women disqualified over nude photos, secret marriages blah blah blah.

In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American Miss America. But almost a year later, with just over six weeks left of her reign, Penthouse printed unauthorised nude photos of Williams. She lost her title but received an apology from the organisation 32 years later.

Then there are incidents like Miss Universe host Steve Harvey announcing the wrong winner in 2015. Or Mrs World 2019 ending up in jail for violently ripping the crown from the head of Mrs Sri Lanka 2021 over her rumoured divorce.

Miss Universe 2023

However, in 2023, the scandals have changed.

Miss Universe is now owned by a trans businesswoman from Thailand. Scandalous enough but in the week before the pageant, Anne Jakkaphong’s JKN Global Group filed for bankruptcy protection.

Meanwhile, a petition called on Australia’s Miss Universe representative Moraya Wilson to step aside. Her parents owe more than $45 million to creditors following multiple company liquidations. Her father’s bankruptcy trustee alleges Moraya Wilson acted as director of 10 companies enabling the family business to continue despite her parent’s bankruptcies.

“It would appear the family business has not been disrupted by strategic bankruptcies and liquidations.”

Wilson refused to step aside and ended up in the Top Three at Miss Universe 2023 earlier today.


Under Anne Jakkaphong, Miss Universe welcomed a more diverse range of women than previously. Trans women were already eligible and this year saw Marina Machete representing Portugal and Rikkie Kollé as Miss Netherlands. Marina made it into the Top Twenty before being eliminated.

Plus-size contestant

Perhaps the biggest controversy on social media: the first plus-size Miss Universe contestant. Miss Nepal’s presence seemed to infuriate some commenters more than the two trans women. Indeed, such was their upset over a curvy woman in a swimsuit, they seemed not to notice Miss Pakistan in her burkini during the swimwear parade.

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios

The Miss Universe 2023 judging panel included model Halima Aden, Carson Kressley from Queer Eye and Drag Race, TikTok influencer Avani Gregg and two former Miss Universe winners, Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad & Tobago and Iris Mittenaere of France.

After narrowing the field of 84 contestants, the judges chose a Top Three: Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua, Anntonia Porsild of Thailand and Moraya Wilson of Australia.

Moraya Wilson placed third, Anntonia Porsild second with Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios announced as Miss Universe 2023. Long may she reign over us.

Want more Miss Universe?

Miss Universe Philippines comes out as bisexual.

Former Miss Universe Australia comes out as bisexual on I’m A Celebrity.

Transgender Model To Contest Miss Universe Pageant.

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