Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi Crowned Miss Universe 2019
© VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty
Miss South Africa has snagged the crown this year for Miss Universe.
Zozibini Tunzi won the 2019 Miss Universe pageant on Sunday night, beating out nearly 90 other women from various countries and territories in the annual competition.
Tunzi, 26, is a public relations professional and activist whose platform is largely based on her fight against gender-based violence, according to her contestant biography.
© BRANDEN CAMP/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock BRANDEN CAMP/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
“She has devoted her social media campaign to changing the narrative around gender stereotypes,” her bio reads. “She is a proud advocate for natural beauty and encourages women to love themselves the way they are.”
Tunzi edged out her runner-up, Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson, as well as Miss Mexico Sofía Aragón, who came in third place.
© Paras Griffin/Getty Zozibini Tunzi | Paras Griffin/Getty
This year’s Miss Universe pageant, which aired live from Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, featured an impressive roster of women from a variety of different backgrounds, including the history-making Miss Myanmar, Swe Zin Htet.
Htet, 21, is the pageant’s first openly gay contestant, and only just came out as a lesbian days ago, something she recently told PEOPLE she timed to coincide with her moment in the spotlight.
“I have that platform that, if I say that I’m a lesbian, it will have a big impact on the LGBTQ community back in Burma,” she said through a translator, as homosexuality remains a crime in her country.
Nicknamed “Superman” by her fans, Htet said she hoped to help change anti-LGBTQ attitudes both through her very public coming out and future advocacy, made stronger with her Miss Universe fame.
“It’s like I just started a new chapter in life,” she said.
Another notable new face was Miss Ireland Fionnghuala O’Reilly, who works as a NASA Datanaut and who has used her platform to advocate for young girls in STEM fields.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to bring my two passions together,” she recently told PEOPLE of her interests in both pageantry and engineering. “But the world is so different now. You can be a Renaissance woman and you can have multiple passions.”