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After a year without the pageant due to the coronavirus pandemic, Andrea Meza of Mexico has officially been crowned Miss Universe.
Meza, who has a software engineering degree, beat out out Miss Brazil at the end of the night, screaming Sunday when the announcer shouted “Viva Mexico!”
According to E! News, beauty queens from 74 countries and territories competed in the competition but only 21 made it to the final round. There, Meza faced questions about both beauty standards as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her final statement round, Miss Mexico was asked to address changing beauty standards in the world.
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Miss Mexico Andrea Meza is crowned Miss Universe 2021 onstage at the Miss Universe 2021 Pageant at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on May 16, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida.
(Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images)
“We live in a society that more and more is more advanced and as we have advanced as a society, we have advanced with stereotypes,” she shared, per the outlet. “Nowadays, beauty is not only the way we look. For me, beauty radiates not only in our spirits, but in our hearts and the way we conduct ourselves. Never permit someone to tell you that you are not valuable.”
Meza was also asked how she would have handled the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the show to cancel its 2020 competition.
“I believe there is not a perfect way to handle this hard situation such as COVID-19,” she explained. “However, I believe that what I would have done was create the lockdown even before everything was that big because we lost so many lives and we cannot afford that. We have to take care of our people. That’s why I would have taken care of them since the beginning.”
Previous winner Zozibini Tunzi fit the crown on Meza’s head and waited to make sure it would stay in place as Meza beamed and took her first walk to the front of the stage.
Tunzi, a public relations professional who became the first Black woman from South Africa to win the contest, had held the title since December 2019.
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“I always knew that my reign as Miss Universe would be unlike any other,” Tunzi said of passing the torch in a statement (via E! News). “While it was nothing like what I had imagined my year to be, this year has opened doors for me I could never have imagined. I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect virtually with people all over the world and elevate the causes I care most about.”
Miss Mexico Andrea Meza appears onstage at the Miss Universe 2021 Preliminary Competition at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on May 14, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida.
(Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images)
The pageant was hosted by “Access Hollywood’s” Mario Lopez and actor and model Olivia Culpo, the 2012 Miss Universe. It was broadcast live from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood in Hollywood, Florida.
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Ahead of the pageant, Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, stated that they had spent months planning a safe competition that followed similar guidelines as last November’s 2020 Miss USA competition held in Memphis.
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The Miss Universe competition airs in more than 160 territories and countries across the globe including in the U.S on the FYI channel and on Telemundo.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.