Stephanie Del Valle, a 19-year-old student from Puerto Rico, was crowned Miss World in a splashy ceremony Sunday at the new MGM National Harbor.
What’s Miss World, you ask? The pageant is the lesser-known competitor to Miss Universe — a global beauty contest with a progressive bent, eschewing the swimsuit competition to judge women on their athletic prowess and charitable works, instead. (Also, their modeling skills — it is a beauty competition, after all.)
The contest was presided over by Megan Young, a former Miss World who has local ties — born in Alexandria, Va.; she represented the Philippines in the pageant, and subsequently became a huge star in that country. Del Valle’s win was a big upset for the crowd favorite, Catriona Gray of the Philippines, who made it to the top five.
Yaritza Miguelina Reyes Ramirez of the Dominican Republic was first runner-up, followed by Natasha Mannuela of Indonesia.
Del Valle is a student at Pace University in New York, studying law and communications, but with an interest in the entertainment industry. Wearing a frothy pink princess gown, she said her “passion for music” makes her who she is. And alas, Miss World doesn’t try to stump its beauty queens with tough geopolitical questions, so Del Valle’s final question at the pageant was a real softball: “If you had an opportunity to change something about the world, what would it be?” Her answer, straight out of the “Miss Congeniality” world peace pageant playbook: “What I would do is send the message of how important it is to change exclusion for acceptance, to promote and provide justice for others, and the importance of helping those in need.”