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Miss Universe winner crowned at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Andrea Meza, from Mexico, is crowned Miss Universe on May 16 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. (Photo Benjamin Askinas)

HOLLYWOOD — Hard Rock and the Miss Universe competition – each with vast international recognition – proved to be a natural partnership.

Hard Rock has venues in nearly 70 countries; the Miss Universe contestants, who spent a week at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, represented 74 countries.

After days of photo shoots, charity work and rehearsals, the 69th Miss Universe competition culminated with the crowning of Andrea Meza, Miss Mexico, as the winner, on May 16 in front of a television audience that officials said reached more than 190 countries and territories.

Andrea Meza, the new Miss Universe, jams with a guitar at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. (Photo via Instagram)

Entertainer Mario Lopez and model Olivia Culpo hosted the event from the stage of Hard Rock Live.
Meza, 26, plans to use her reign as Miss Universe as an advocate for women’s rights and against gender-based violence.

“I am so honored to have been selected among the 73 other amazing women I stood with tonight,” Meza said in a statement. “It is a dream come true to wear the Miss Universe crown, and I hope to serve the world through my advocacy for equality in the year to come and beyond.”

Meza is from Chihuahua City. She has a degree in software engineering. As an activist, she works closely with the Municipal Institute for Women, which aims to end gender-based violence. She is also a certified make-up artist and model, whose lifestyle includes being vegan and participating in extreme sports.

Pitbull was scheduled to perform at the competition, but he was replaced by Luis Fonsi. Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi, from South Africa, crowned the new champion. Julia Gama, Miss Brazil, was runner-up.

During the week of preparation, many contestants shared photos and videos on social media of scenes from Seminole Hard Rock, including with the Guitar Hotel as a backdrop. The Seminole Tribe’s Cheyenne Kippenberger, who recently concluded a two-year reign as Miss Indian World, met with Tunzi and some of the contestants. A few contestants participated in Hard Rock’s traditional guitar-smash at the Guitar Hotel.

The women also spent time May 10 working together to support Smile Train, an international children’s charity that provides training, funding and resources in developing countries for free cleft repair surgery and care.

The United States was represented by Aysa Branch, 23. She won the Miss USA competition last fall. She is from Booneville, Mississippi, and has her own cosmetic business named Branch Beauty.

The Miss Universe Selection Committee was comprised of Miss Universe 1997 Brook Lee; Miss Universe 2006 Zuleyka Rivera; President of Carnival Cruise Line Christine Duffy; chief marketing officer of Mary Kay Cosmetics Sheryl Adkins-Green; actor and activist Arden Cho; the CEO of Live Tinted Deepica Mutyala; television host Keltie Knight; and the CEO of Arena del Rio Tatyana Orozco.

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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