PETALING JAYA: While the focus was on this year’s Miss Universe, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines, who was nearly “denied” her title by blundering host Steve Harvey, Malaysian finalist Vanessa Tevi Kumares was applauded for her gracious support for the stunned winner.
As other contestants were more occupied with consoling Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, who had been mistakenly declared the winner by Harvey at the final in Las Vegas on Sunday, Vanessa was one of the first to approach Wurtzbach after the gaffe was corrected by Harvey.
The gesture did not go unnoticed by the audience, including those who caught it on television. Fellow Malaysians hailed Vanessa for supporting Wurtzbach by posting comments on the 24-year-old Seremban-born beauty’s Facebook page.
Hema Sulakshana said: “You represented the true Malaysian culture. Thank you! Keep winning my girl! We’re all so proud of you!”
Filipinos were also openly grateful.
Tagumeno Ako commented: “I am Filipino and I was teary-eyed when I saw how Vanessa supported Pia. What a real friend! This just shows that not all ‘beauty queens’ are bullies and insecure when they do not get the crown. Go Vanessa!”
“That was such a touching gesture. I hope to see you in Malaysia when I visit there someday,” added Judy Tolentino Pazon.
Backstage, a video posted by the Miss Universe Organisation on Facebook showed Wurtzbach describing the ending as a “very non-traditional crowning”.
The organisation has also issued a public apology, saying that “a live telecast means that human errors can come into play”.
Attempts to contact Vanessa were unsuccessful at press time.