Prior to the 71st Miss Universe pageant’s crowning of USA’s R’Bonney Gabriel as her successor, Harnaaz Sandhu battled back the tears before tripping onstage during a visceral farewell walk as the current Miss Universe.
The former champion could be seen tripping and almost falling in a video while wearing a glittering black gown with images of Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta‘s winning moments printed on it.
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“I was 17 years old when I first took the stage and since then becoming Miss Universe was my goal, I’ve been given the megaphone on a worldwide stage to present the topic of menstrual equity before world leaders, asking them to keep this conversation ongoing,” the voiceover of the 22-year-old model was heard as she crossed the stage to a rousing reception.
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An emotional Sandhu said to Gabriel, “Remember to live this year to the fullest because tomorrow is never promised.”
After 1994 and 2000, Sadhu brought victory home for the third time when she won the Miss Universe 2021 pageant in Israel. However, India was denied a second straight Miss Universe crown as Mangluru-born Divita Rai was eliminated from the competition before making it to the top 5.
Rai, 25, won the Miss Diva Universe competition last year. In 2021, she finished third and lost to Sandhu.
The “ethereal portrayal of India as the golden bird, which is a sign of wealth of our rich cultural history together with the spiritual essence of living in harmony with variety” served as the inspiration for Rai’s Sone ki Chidiya costume, according to Rai.
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Anne Jakrajutatip, a Thai business entrepreneur and transgender activist who purchased the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million in October, hailed the 2021 winner for her strength the day before the highlight event.