Catriona Gray from the Philippines was crowned Miss Universe 2018 on Monday, beating contestants from 93 other countries.
The 24-year-old Filipina-Australian becomes the fourth Filipina to win the coveted title in the Thai capital Bangkok where the pageant included for the first time a transgender contestant.
“My heart is filled with so much gratitude. There were moments of doubt where I felt overwhelmed and I felt the pressure,” said Gray, who wore a red and orange dress that was inspired by Mount Mayon, a volcano that erupted this year.
Gray was asked during the contest about her views on legalizing marijuana and replied that she supported it for medical uses. After she was crowned, Gray told reporters the question was “definitely relevant” and “an active topic”, in an apparent reference to the war on drugs in the Philippines that has killed thousands of Filipinos and caused international alarm.
Gray said during the pageant that working in a Manila slum had taught her to find beauty in difficult situations. “If I could teach people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children would have a smile on their face,” she said.
Miss South Africa, Tamaryn Green, 24 was the first runner-up, followed by Miss Venezuela, Sthefany Gutiérrez, 19.