Nel-Peters is only the second South African to win the title after Margaret Gardiner won the title in 1978.
The 22-year-old business management graduate beat 91 other contestants to the title in Las Vegas on Sunday. Laura Gonzalez of Colombia was the first runner-up, with Davina Bennett of Jamaica the second runner-up.
Miss Universe, “Congratulations to Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, the winner of the 2017 #MissUniverse competition!”
Nel-Peters shared that she also had the chance to be close to other Miss Universe candidates. She said she actually had her first photo shoot with first runner-up Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez.
“In a way, I’m so happy, but also sad for her because she really wanted it. She competed so well!” Nel-Peters said of Gonzalez.
Nel-Peters said she learned a lot about Latin culture through the Latinas in the contest like Miss Colombia.
“You feel so strong and empowered to be with 92 contestants and they all worked hard,” the newly hailed Miss Universe enthused.
What will be the first thing she would do as Miss Universe?
“Apart from giving big hugs for my family and friends, I love a proper barbecue so I’d love to have a barbecue!”
As Miss Universe, she also hopes to help find a solution for the water drought in her country’s capital, Cape Town.
She would also focus on advocacy such as HIV/AIDS, which is a big problem in South Africa, as well as support Miss Universe Organization’s partner charity, Smile Train, which provides free surgeries for children with cleft lip or palate. Likewise, she wishes to help the women victims of crimes under the care of non-government organization Unbreakable.
“If you see yourself as a victim, then you open yourself as that,” she said.
“To be confident is to be confident about who you are and to work on your fears, to know how to handle your fears and be a strong, independent women,” Nel-Peters said when asked to define the Miss Universe motto “confidently beautiful.”
Most especially, she hopes to become an inspiration for all.
“Hopefully I can set a good example for small girls that you can come from a small town in South Africa and become Miss Universe. You can conquer your fears and become anyone you want to be!” espoused Demi-Leigh, who just gave to South Africa its second Miss Universe title and its first Miss Universe crown in 39 years.
Author: Staff Writer