Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios, 23, made history by winning the 2023 Miss Universe title in the 72nd competition held in San Salvador, El Salvador, with contestants from 84 countries on November 18.
She becomes the first contestant from Nicaragua to ever win the Miss Universe pageant.
Her journey started on November 19, 2023, at the Miss Universe 2023 contest when she entered the competition alongside 89 delegates from different countries.
Palacios, a Nicaraguan model, and beauty pageant winner, showcased not only her outer beauty but also her grace and intellect on the global stage.
Before her crowning, she represented Nicaragua as Miss World Nicaragua 2020 in the Miss World 2021 competition, securing an admirable place among the Top 40 contestants.
The journey to the Miss Universe crown began for Palacios when she was crowned Miss Teen Nicaragua in 2016, marking the early stages of her successful modeling and pageant career.
Palacios, a TV host, and model bested the fierce competition, including first runner-up Antonia Porsild from Thailand and second runner-up Moraya Wilson from Australia.
The top 10 finalists also included Camila Avella from Colombia, Isabella García-Manzo from El Salvador, Camila Escribens from Peru, Michelle Dee from the Philippines, Karla Guilfú Acevedo from Puerto Rico, Athenea Pérez from Spain, and Diana Silva from Venezuela.
The judges included a mix of well-known individuals, such as model Halima Aden, “Queer Eye” star Carson Kressley, TikTok influencer Avani Gregg, and former Miss Universe winners Janelle Commissiong from Trinidad & Tobago (Miss Universe 1977) and Iris Mittenaere from France (Miss Universe 2016).
The journey to the crown began with 20 semi-finalists selected based on the results of the preliminary competition and a global fan vote.
The competition featured a swimsuit round that narrowed the field to 10, marking a historic moment with the inclusion of diverse body types and choices in swimwear, including the first “curvy” contestant, Miss Nepal, and the first contestant to choose a burkini, Miss Pakistan.
The evening gown round further narrowed the contestants, leading to the intense final rounds of hot-topic questions and answers.
Palacios, Porsild, and Wilson were the final three contestants, displaying their smarts and elegance in the competition.
The final question posed was, “If you could live one year in another woman’s shoes, who would you choose and why?”
Miss Australia paid tribute to her mother, expressing her desire to experience life from her perspective.
Meanwhile, Miss Thailand named Malala Yousafzai, citing the inspirational journey and accomplishments of the activist.
However, it was Miss Nicaragua’s answer that stood out as the most distinctive and unexpected.
She selected the 18th-century British philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, citing her as a boundary-breaker who provided opportunities for women.
Palacios said, “There are no limitations for women today,” delivering her powerful message through a translator.
The top five also included Camila Avella from Colombia and Karla Guilfú Acevedo from Puerto Rico.
Spain’s Athenea Pérez, who made it to the top 10, received the honor of being crowned Miss Congeniality.
The crown was presented to Palacios by the reigning Miss Universe 2022, R’Bonney Gabriel, who is also a past Miss USA.