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Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios Wins Miss Universe Crown; Michelle Dee Among 10 Finalists

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios Wins Miss Universe Crown; Michelle Dee Among 10 Finalists
Photos from Facebook shows Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios (right) reacting after being crowned Miss Universe at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador on Nov. 18, 2023 and Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee participating in the evening gown competition.

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios won the Miss Universe competition late Saturday night, Nov. 18 (Sunday morning, Nov. 19 in Manila), the first to wear the crown from her country.

Palacios is a 23-year-old communicologist, who said she wants to work to promote mental health after suffering debilitating bouts of anxiety herself.

Miss Thailand, Anntonia Porsild, was first runner-up and Miss Australia, Moraya Wilson, the second runner-up.

Eighty-four women competed for the crown in the 72nd edition of the competition.

Palacios appeared to secure the win when she confidently answered the question of which woman’s shoes would she like to spend a year in by saying Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th-century English writer and philosopher. Wollstonecraft was an advocate of women’s rights and is considered one of the forerunners of feminism.

Palacios said she wants to work to close the salary gap between the genders so that women can work in any area.

Miss Universe was last held in El Salvador in 1975. This year’s event was another opportunity for President Nayib Bukele to tout changes made under his administration, especially greatly improving the country’s safety.

“El Salvador has changed for good and we have shown it again,” Bukele said Saturday night. “Miss Universe has given us the opportunity to show the world what we are capable of. Thank you for choosing to be part of El Salvador’s rebirth.”

Bukele is running for reelection despite constitutional term limits and is widely popular for his crackdown on the country’s gangs. But he has faced international criticism for eroding checks and balances on his power and not respecting human rights.

More than 72,000 people have been arrested without due process since a state of emergency was declared in March 2022 in response to a surge in gang violence. The special powers it granted Bukele remain in place.

Meanwhile, Philippine bet Michelle Dee concluded her Miss Universe 2023 journey in the Top 10.

Dee was one of the Gold winners of Voice of Change special awards, along with Angola and Puerto Rico, for her autism acceptance, inclusivity and empowerment advocacy. Dee also received the “Spirit of Carnival” award.

The Kapuso actress dazzled in red swimwear during the swimsuit portion of the pageant. She sported a black gown created by Mark Bumgarner drawing inspiration from 106-year-old Kalinga tattoo artist (mambabatok) Apo Whang-od in the evening gown segment.

On social media, Dee posted, “We did what we could but destiny has greater things for us! Everything ALWAYS happens for a reason! I’m still trying to compose my thoughts & feelings with everything going on, but all I know is I’m truly indebted to all of you! We showed the whole universe what our #BAYANIHAN spirit can do and let’s keep shaking them. Mahal na mahal ko kayo.”

Dee is the daughter of Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez and cousin of Reina Hispanoamericana 2017 Winwyn Marquez.

Mexico will be the host country of the next edition of Miss Universe.

The Autism Society Philippines has congratulated Dee, an ASP goodwill ambassador, for her accomplishment.

The national director of Miss Universe Philippines Shamcey Supsup-Lee has also praised Dee. 

She penned a message on her social media for Dee, saying, “To Michelle, words are not enough to express how immensely proud I am of you and your relentless drive to elevate your cause on the Universe stage. Being awarded as a gold winner in the Voice for Change category is a true testament to your dedication and your ability to walk the talk like a true queen. Securing a place in the top 10 is a remarkable achievement in itself. You have put the Philippines back on the map as a pageant powerhouse, and for that, we are immensely grateful.”

“In my heart, I still believe you deserved a spot in the top 5. But as I often say, we can only control so much; the rest is beyond our grasp. Yet, in uniting the Filipino people and showing that kindness can indeed move mountains and create change, you have already triumphed. We eagerly await your return, our Queen. You’ve made us all so proud,” she added.