Angry Colombians, including the nation’s president, responded Monday to Miss Universe host Steve Harvey inadvertently awarding the crown to Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo, before taking it away and giving it to Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
“We celebrated a lot when they said that Colombia was going to be Miss Universe for the second year in a row,” President Juan Manuel Santos told a Radio Nacional morning show. “And what a disappointment it was when this host said that he had made a mistake. . . . they put the crown on her,” he said of Gutierrez. “The photos are there to prove it. And for me, as a Colombian, she is still Miss Universe.”
Other Colombian citizens echoed his sentiment. Bogotá doorman Efraín Salinas told The Associated Press he believed nefarious forces “stole the title. After winning last year’s Miss Universe we’re a beauty-pageant powerhouse and nobody wants us to win again.”
Meanwhile, presidential hopeful Donald Trump, the pageant’s former rights-holder, tweeted early Monday, “Very sad what happened last night at the Miss Universe Pageant,” and insisted that were he still owner, “This would never have happened!” Trump, 69, later told NBC’s “Today” that as a solution, “I think I’d make them a co-winner. That’d be very cool.” He added that Harvey was a “great guy” and allowed that, “Things happen. It’s live television.”
Comedian, talk show host and “Family Feud” host Harvey, 58, initially stumbled in a tweeted apology, misspelling both countries’ names. “I want to apologize emphatically to Miss Philippians and Miss Columbia,” he wrote Sunday night. “This was a terribly honest human mistake and I am so regretful.”
About 35 minutes later he replaced the tweet with one spelled correctly, and tweeted additionally, “I’d like to apologize to the viewers . . . that I disappointed as well. Again it was an honest mistake. I don’t want to take away from this amazing night and pageant. As well as the wonderful contestants. They were all amazing.”
Harvey predictably had to weather a barrage of comical memes, but also a number of overtly racist tweets. Some attacked fellow African-American TV personality Montel Williams, mistaking him for Harvey. “I’m flattered to be mistaken for my friend,” Williams tweeted in response. “It’s funny, not racist.”
A range of celebrities tweeted Harvey their support, from comedians Sherri Shepherd and Cedric the Entertainer to Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley.