On Monday (January 16), two days after Miss USA, R’Bonney Gabriel, won the 71st annual Miss Universe pageant, Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro claimed the title was stolen from Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel.
“Nos robaron el Miss Universo,” Maduro said during a meeting with the Expanded Military Political High Command in Caracas. “Amanda Dudamel ganó de calle, bueno no puede ser un robo como ese.”
This comment by Maduro comes as the current government has been criticized for “barring potential challengers from seeking office” by issuing warrants for opposition leaders who don’t recognize his Presidency. This also follows an economic collapse that has led to 7 million people migrating as they can’t afford basic necessities like food. So many find it odd that with all of this happening to Venezuela, he’s commenting on the Miss Universe pageant.
As for Miss Venezuela, Dudamel came in first runner-up during the competition, which took place on Saturday (January 14) in New Orleans.
“I am very happy, and this is our triumph,” Dudamel said after the pageant. “It is the triumph of an entire country, and this is what had to happen. God has a perfect plan for all of us, and this is the plan he had for Venezuela this year.”
The same day that Maduro made his comment, Dudamel thanked her home country on social media for their support.
It didn’t take long for controversy to arise after Gabriel was crowned the winner. Many people considered it a conflict of interest that Anne Jakrajutatip is the CEO of JKN Global Group, which owns both the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.
Amy Emmerich, CEO of Miss Universe Organization, said that “one of the top four accounting firms in the United States handled the results and verified the process” and added that “the false rigging allegations are absurd and distract from the incredible milestones our organization and the delegates experienced this weekend.”
With her victory, Gabriel became the first Filipino American winner of the Miss Universe pageant. The last time Miss USA won the competition was in 2012 when Olivia Culpo was crowned. The last time Venezuela won the pageant was in 2013 when Gabriela Isler took home the title.
In total, the USA has won the most Miss Universe pageants in its 71-year history with nine titles. Venezuela comes in second with seven.