Steve Harvey Takes Heat for Miss Universe Question

Host requested that Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu do her best animal impression
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2021 9:20 AM CST
Steve Harvey Takes Heat for Miss Universe Question
India's Harnaaz Sandhu, right, answers a question as host Steve Harvey looks on during the Miss Universe pageant on Monday in Eilat, Israel.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

If you're vying to become Miss Universe, it's expected you'll have to wear a swimsuit, brag about your accomplishments, and answer some questions. During Sunday's competition in Eilat, Israel, Miss India was instead thrown by a rather unusual request from host Steve Harvey. "I hear you do some pretty good animal impersonations," Harvey said to a baffled Harnaaz Sandhu, per Insider. "Let's hear your best one."

Sandhu, 21, was surprised by the ask—"Oh, my God, Steve, I was not expecting to do this on the world stage," she told Harvey—but obliged with some cat's meows into the mic, after telling the audience to "brace yourself, everyone." "I have to do this, I have no other option," she "joked," per Insider, which notes her meows were "impressive."

The request made to Sandhu, who has long been an advocate for women's rights, specifically around the issues of health and hygiene at camps, stood in stark contrast to those made of other contestants, including Brenda Smith, the contender from Panama who spoke of nabbing a job at the United Nations, and Emma Collingridge, the UK's representative, who talked about her fight against gender-based violence after being inspired by Medusa's origin story.

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Twitter responded immediately to Harvey's request with snark and criticism. "Dude ... A cat A CAT," one remarked. CNN notes that Sandhu did get the chance to offer a more intellectual response later in the competition regarding her thoughts on climate change, and her answer apparently served her well: She was crowned the winner of the night. Harvey has seen Miss Universe controversy before: In 2015, he was the subject of online outrage after initially announcing that Ariadna Gutierrez from Colombia was the winner, when she was really the first runner-up, per USA Today. That year's winner was actually Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. (More Miss Universe stories.)

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