Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua has been crowned the 2023 Miss Universe at the culmination of the annual beauty pageant, which took place in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador.
Anntonia Porsild of Thailand was placed as first runner-up.
Palacios had previously represented Nicaragua in the 2017 Teen Miss Universe pageant, placing in the top 10, and in the 2021 Miss World pageant.
The winners of 84 countries’ national pageants had competed at this year’s Miss Universe, judged by a panel including model Halima Aden, “Queer Eye” star Carson Kressley, TikTok influencer Avani Gregg and two former Miss Universe winners, Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad & Tobago (Miss Universe 1977) and Iris Mittenaere of France (Miss Universe 2016).
20 semi-finalists were announced at the beginning of the night’s proceedings following the results of the preliminary competition (and a global fan vote). After the swimsuit round, the field was narrowed to 10 — seeing the elimination of the first “curvy” contestant to make the pageant’s semi finals, Miss Nepal, as well as the first contestant to choose a burkini as their swimsuit, Miss Pakistan. The evening gown round cut the number of contestants in half again.
Two rounds of hot topic Q&As then left just three women in contention: Palacios, Porsild and second runner-up Moraya Wilson of Australia.
Asked in the final round who she would choose to spend a day in the life of, Palacios chose the 18th-century British philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who she said broke boundaries and “gave an opportunity to many women.”
“There are no limitations for women today,” she added via a translator.
Miss Colombia, Camila Avella, and Miss Puerto Rico, Karla Guilfú, rounded out the top five, while another member of the top 10, Spain’s Athenea Pérez, was crowned the pageant’s Miss Congeniality.
Palacios’ win marks the first-ever time a Nicaraguan woman has won Miss Universe.
Sheynnis is no stranger to pageantry, having started competing in national pageants at the age of 16.
On the coronation night, Sheynnis consistently progressed to the next rounds, with strong performances in both the swimsuit segment and the evening gown competition.
According to the Miss Universe organisation, Sheynnis’ goal in life is to “work in the service of humanity, by running a newsroom and producing content and commercials for international brands.”
In addition to Sheynnis’ victory, the event saw several more historic firsts, including two mother candidates, two transgender women, and a plus-size individual.
The new beauty queen was crowned by last year’s winner, USA’s R’Bonney Nola Gabriel.