Steve Harvey decided to close off a year of what has been a slew of questionable, legacy-tainting comments and decisions with *checks notes* even more of the aforementioned at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, which he was invited to host yet again. Throughout the ceremony, held in Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, Harvey had another mix-up in which he (reportedly thanks to a teleprompter error) confused the winner of the national costume contest and had a few jokes fall flat – with his off-the-cuff mention of the cartel in a comment toward Miss Colombia being the most notable and deplorable.
Miss Colombia, Gabriela Tafur Náder, poked at the 62-year-old comedian, actor and television personality when he confirmed she made it to the top 20.
“Are you sure you read it correctly? Should I go back? Tell me what to do,” Tafur said with a giggle and hair flip, referencing his famous 2015 mix-up.
“You just keep this going on, don’t you? … You know I’m struggling with this,” Harvey responded jokingly.
“You’re forgiven, don’t worry,” Tafur replied.
“You’ve forgiven me. The cartel … they’re not handling it the same way,” the Family Feud host said, digging himself deeper into the abyss.
As you may recall, Harvey mistakenly jumped the gun in 2015 and preemptively titled that year’s Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutiérrez, the winner before realizing the rightful victor of the night was Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach. Unsurprisingly, he fittingly took this year’s bait and made fun of himself. His mistake, though, was touching on a sensitive stereotype about Colombians so often lazily pranced on — and he unsurprisingly faced backlash.
On Twitter, many criticized Harvey for the joke. One commenter, Crimson Crazed, wrote, “We might forgive you for a mistake that happened years ago. But making a joke, in worldwide television about cartels and Colombia’s violent history is not OK.” They also demanded an apology.
A tired quip about Colombians and cartels minimize the real violence that continues in the South American country. According to an independent study that assessed the ripple effect of the 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), at least 734 activists and community leaders who oppose continued drug trafficking or illegal mining have been killed from then to now.
Harvey has yet to comment or apologize. Instead, he posted a series of anti-hate #MondayMotivation tweets.
In terms of the pageant, Miss South Africa won the Miss Universe 2019 title, with Miss Puerto Rico coming in as first runner-up and Miss Mexico as second runner-up. Tafur came in at top five.