Algeria, November 27, 2017

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Miss South Africa wins Miss Universe crown - while Ireland has best performance in seven years

Miss South Africa wins Miss Universe crown - while Ireland has best performance in seven years

South Africa's Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters has been crowned Miss Universe 2017.

The 22-year-old, who recently earned a business management degree, was crowned at The AXIS theatre at Planet Hollywood casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night, beating out runner-up Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez and second runner-up was Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett.

And while Ireland didn't take home the title, Cailín Áine Ní Toibín performed better than any contestant over the last seven years, nabbing a place in the top 16. The model and retail worker from Cork dazzled the judges and is the first Irish contestant to place since the 2010 competition, where Roz Purcell featured in the top seven, launching her career.

The pageant was bought by new owner and former Miss Indiana Brittany Mason earlier this year, who gave it a modern makeover and has been working closely with Toibín in training her since she won the crown three months ago. Ireland has had a bit of a lacklustre time at international pageants in recent years with Lauren McDonagh failing to place at Miss World last weeken, which has become something of the norm since Emma Waldron landed a place in the top five in 2010.

92 women from around the world took to the stage, the largest number of entrants ever, including a few firsts - Cambodia, Laos and Nepal all made their country debut.

The idea of pageants may make some scoff, but the stakes are high for Nel-Peters, who will now earn a generous year-long salary, move into a luxury New York City apartment and be catapulted to fame which can result in a long-lasting career if you play your cards right like former Miss Universe winner Olivia Culpo, who makes a lucrative living as a model and influencer.

Fans of the pageant submitted the questions that the final five contestants were asked during the competition.

When asked to name the most important issue women face in the workplace, Nel-Peters said the lack of equal pay.

Steve Harvey (L) speaks with Miss Ireland 2017 Cailin Aine Ni Toibin after she is named a top 16 finalist during the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant at The Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on November 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

'In some places, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours, and I do not believe that is right,' she said. 'I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.'

Nel-Peters is from the South African coastal community of Sedgefield in the Western Cape province. She helped develop a programme to train women in self-defence in various situations after she was robbed at gunpoint a month after she was crowned as Miss South Africa.

Steve Harvey returned as the show's host despite botching the 2015 Miss Universe crowning.

On Sunday, he poked fun at his mistake throughout the night. Three days after people in the US celebrated Thanksgiving, Harvey told the audience he was 'grateful for the Oscars,' referring to the best-picture flub at this year's Academy Awards.

Miss Ireland 2017 Cailin Aine Ni Toibin is named a top 16 finalist during the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant at The Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on November 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Grammy-Award winner Fergie performed her new song A Little Work while the contestants walked down the stage wearing evening gowns.

This year's judges included YouTube star Lele Pons, former judge of America's Next Top Model Jay Manuel and Wendy Fitzwilliam, the 1998 Miss Universe winner from Trinidad and Tobago.

President Donald Trump offended Hispanics when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his bid for the White House in 2015.

At the time, he co-owned The Miss Universe Organisation with NBCUniversal, but the network and the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision quickly cut ties with him, refusing to air the show.

Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters competes during the 66th Miss Universe pageant at Planet Hollywood hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. November 26, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Trump sued both networks, eventually settling and selling off the entire pageant to talent management company WME/IMG.

independent



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