While Americans stuff their faces this Thanksgiving, the Miss Universe Competition returns this weekend to the AXIS at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas for the pageant’s 66th edition.
And come Sunday night, the betting money is on South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters to be wearing the Miss Universe 2017 crown.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has Nel-Peters at 4-1 to win the competition, meaning a $100 wager nets the correct gambler $400 should the South African top the 92-entrant field. Covers.com also think the 22-year-old beauty is the lady to beat, the sports betting outlet listing her even shorter at 3/1.
Bettors at online book Bovada feel otherwise. They’re putting money on Miss Thailand, which has shortened 25-year-old Maria Poonlertlarp’s odds to make her the favorite. Her 4-1 line is followed by Nel-Peters at 9-2, or +450.
Other favorites at Bovada include Colombia (5-1), and Philippines, Venezuela, Australia, and Canada (10-1).
Nel-Peters has a business management degree from South Africa’s North-West University. She says her biggest motivation comes from her half-sister who has a disability.
Oddsmakers believe Miss USA Kara McCullough will receive a bit of home-field advantage for representing the US in Las Vegas despite being born in Italy. Bovada has the 26-year-old at 12-1, while Paddy gives her a better chance at 10-1.
The Miss Universe Organization puts on the pageant, and is also responsible for Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. President Donald Trump owned the organization for nearly two decades before selling the company in 2015 to WME-IMG, which today controls the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Miss Universe 2017 airs live on FOX November 26 at 7 pm ET. Steve Harvey returns to host for a third consecutive year, with Fergie and Rachel Platten scheduled to perform.
Harvey’s Got This
The most notable happening to occur at a Miss Universe in recent memory is of course host Steve Harvey’s mishap in 2015.
Two years ago, Harvey mistakenly read the first runner-up as the winner, instead of correctly identifying Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzback as Miss Universe.
2016 went much smoother, and the odds of Harvey messing up again are so long that oddsmakers aren’t even offering such lines.
Plenty of Longshots
The Miss Universe Competition will begin on Sunday by revealing who viewers voted into the Top 16. The semifinalists will then walk the runway in swimsuit or athletic wear “displaying her dedication to a healthy lifestyle.” They include candidates from Slovenia, Zambia, and Tanzania, who are all at 275-1.
Subsequent rounds dwindle the finalists down to just three, who are then asked the exact same question before the six judges pick a winner. Oddsmakers believe there are dozens of ladies who have little to no chance of making the seminal round.
There’s also much speculation that the judges won’t go for a two-peat in France. Current Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere’s successor as Miss France is at 90-1.
So what makes a good Miss Universe candidate? The organization says, “A contestant must be confident. She must be able to demonstrate authenticity and articulate her ambitions as a titleholder.”