Steve Harvey faced a terrible backlash after he mistakenly announced Miss Colombia as the winner of Miss Universe in 2015, only to have her crown removed a few minutes later when he corrected his mistake. Harvey still lives to the gaffe, and he recently revealed more details about what went down behind the scenes.
Steve Harvey hosts the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant on December 20, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Photo: GettyImages/Global Images of Ukraine
Steve Harvey, a seasoned TV host, and comedian faced perhaps the most challenging moment in his television career in December 2015 when, by mistake, he announced Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner of the pageant.
However, as the Colombian queen waved to the crowd and dried her tears with a happy smile on her face, Harvey came back on stage to create one of the most memorable moments in the Miss Universe pageant.
Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez tearfully enjoys her few minutes crowned as Miss Universe in Las Vegas, Nevada. December 2015.| Photo: GettyImages/Global Images of Ukraine
“I have to apologize,” Harvey stated, shocking the audience and the misses. “The first runner up is Miss Colombia. The 2015 Miss Universe is Miss Philippines,” he said, prompting Philippines representative, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, to go in the front, as the crown was removed from Gutierrez and passed down to her.
At the time, Harvey told the crowd that he would take full responsibility for the mistake, even showing the card with the results written clearly on them.
Miss Philippines 2015, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who was mistakenly named as first runner-up, reacts as she is named the 2015 Miss Universe on December 20, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Photo: GettyImages/Global Images of Ukraine
The gaffe earned Harvey the hate of the Colombian people, and he revealed his family even got death threats as a result of his mistake.
Now, Harvey is revealing more details about the longest 4 minutes of his life, on an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw for his podcast, “Phil In the Blanks.”
Just six months before, the pageant had suffered a significant change, when Donald Trump and NBC Universal, who held the rights of the contest, split up as business partners in the middle of Trump’s presidential campaign. Then, the giant talent agency WME/IMG took control of the pageant.
Steve Harvey speaks at the State Farm Color Full Lives Art Gallery during the 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Photo: GettyImages/Global Images of Ukraine
Usually, the announcement of the winner followed this order: second runner up, winner, and the woman left was automatically assumed as the first runner up. However, there would only be two names in the card: the second runner up and the winner.
“So we practice it I can’t tell you how many times [with just two names]. Well, the lady that used to run the old pageant, she decides we’re not doing that,” Harvey explains. “So, she puts a third name on the card, don’t tell nobody. No one knows this but this woman.”
“But here’s the problem: the teleprompter don’t know it. So, I do the second runner-up, I got two people standing there. I got Miss Colombia and the Philippines, and I got an earbud in, I got a director talking to me. The teleprompter says, ‘And the new 2015 Miss Universe is…’ just like we’ve been practicing. Well, little do I know, on this card, this woman done put the winner in the corner. My thumb is on the name of the winner. I never saw the third name because we never looked for it.”
Harvey explained that not only did he read what was written on the card, but he also followed instructions of the director on his ear, who told him to say, Miss Colombia. The man even told Harvey, “good job, now go to the back of the stage for the final.”
Then, a minute later, the director says: “you said the wrong name.”
“What I said to him is not for television, podcast, internet, nothing,” the “Steve” host recalls.
“I put together a combination of profanities that was one of the most beautiful combinations. If I was a fighter, this would be on the top plays on ESPN.”
The director told Steve not to worry as they would correct the mistake the next day at a press conference. But Harvey was not having it. “I went out there, man, and I took all that heat,” Harvey says. “I even turned the card around and showed it to them; my mistake. … It was so nasty, man. It got ugly.”
Just a month after the controversy, Harvey invited both Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines to his talk show to publicly apologize to both of them. There, Gutierrez explained she felt humiliated, and her Colombian peers felt the same, but she forgave Steve and said she was ready to move on.
Despite the mistake, Harvey went back to host the show in the last three years, making fun of the error and even getting shady comments from the contestants, like this year’s Miss Costa Rica.
The woman, who also hosts a talk show in her country, had some advice for Harvey: “If they ever give you a really, really, really important envelope, try to read carefully, OK?” said Natalia Carvajal, earning a good laugh from the audience.
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