Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, representing South Africa this Sunday, won the 2017 Miss Universe crown at The AXIS Theater, at the Planet Hollywood casino-resort, on the Las Vegas Strip. The 22-year-old Miss aims to fund knowledge on HIV/AIDS and self-defense.
The first runner-up was the also 22-year-old Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez, while the second runner-up was Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett, who’s 21 years old. There were 91 women from all around the world participating in the contest.
The Mikimoto crown was passed on by the 2016 Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere, from France.
This is the second time in history that a South-African woman accomplishes this kind of goal. The first who made it was Margaret Gardiner, in 1978.
At the end, the three candidates were asked which they considered was their best quality, and how they would use it if they won the crown.
The South-African woman said that she has all the characteristics of an ideal Miss Universe.
“As Miss Universe, you have to be confident in who you are as an individual. A Miss Universe is a woman that has overcome many fears and by that she is able to help other women overcome their fears. She is a woman that nothing is ever too much to ask for, and that is exactly who I am,” she said.
When Nel-Peters returned to her country, she planed the “Unbreakable” campaign to enforce and help women to know how to defend themselves – both emotionally and physically.
According to the new Miss Universe, her “biggest motivation” is her half-sister, who lives with her stepmother and father and has a “disability.”
Nel-Peters was attacked in South Africa’s capital
Nel-Peters said that she almost couldn’t make it to the contest because four men gun-pointed her a month ago in the capital of her country, Johannesburg. According to the Miss, who’s a self-defense trainer, she punched one of those men in the throat and then ran to avoid being kidnapped.
She told the media that she saw three men on her left “approaching” her, while another was doing the same on her right. In the moment, she “knew by their eyes” what they were doing. She felt “petrified,” but “prepared” for what was going to happen.
“I had at least three guns pointed at me,” the new Miss Universe said. “I climbed out of the car but they told me to climb back in because I was coming with them. He was dazed [after being punched] and pushed me into the car. I forced my way out and ran as fast as I could into traffic to get help.”
This event inspired her to teach other women to defend themselves if they are found in a similar situation.
Not even she can imagine what would have happened if those men had caught her.
Nel-Peters will now live for an entire year in a New York City apartment and receive a salary to carry her Miss Universe duties.
The South-African woman, who recently received a college degree in Business Management, wants equal salary for every female around the world.