On Monday, Harnaaz Sandhu won the 70th annual Miss Universe Competition and became the third Indian woman to grab the title in the event’s long history.
At only 21 years old, Sandhu beat the other 70 contestants out for the crown, taking first place from Miss South Africa and Miss Paraguay who were the runners up. This marks the third time a contestant from India has won the title, following Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.
From Chandigarh India, Sandhu works as an actor and model. She has a Bachelors in I.T. and is completing a Master’s in Public Administration from Panjab University. Sandhu is said to draw inspiration from her mother who is a successful gynaecologist and who inspired her to support women when she worked alongside her in women’s health camps.
Sandhu’s answer in the final interview stage wowed the audience and judges alike. She answered the question: what advice would you give to young women watching on how to deal with the pressures they face today?
“When I think of the biggest pressure the youth of today is facing is to believe in themselves, to know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourself with others and let’s talk about more important things that are happening worldwide, I think this is what you need to understand, come out speak for yourself because you are the leader of your life, you are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that is why I am standing here”, she replied.
However, that wasn’t the only question that caught the attention of everyone in the room. As host Steve Harvey called out the semi-finalists, he gave each contestant a question to answer as they took their place. His question to Sandhu “I hear you do some pretty good animal impersonations, they got that question (he said looking down at his card), let’s hear your best one.”
A wide-eyed and very surprised Sandhu replied with “Oh my god Steve, I was not expecting to do this on the world stage,” and then proceeded to give a playful warning to the crowd and followed with several convincing meows.
Many watchers online were quick to point out the bizarreness of that question especially since other contestants received questions related to their work at the UN and representing their country. There were others who also received similar light-hearted questions and were able to link their answers to something more significant, yet, no one was asked to do something as ridiculous as a cat impression.
Many people online have praised Sandhu’s professionalism as she dealt with such an awkward request. One commenter said, “She was put on the spot and was a good sport about it”.
Although it is apparent that the cards held the questions for each contestant, there are those who are calling for a new host due to the disparity of questions given to the contestants.
Image by Ashton Mullins via Unsplash