If online betting sites were to be believed, the odds may be in Binibining Pilipinas-Universe’s favor, as the prestigious beauty pageant stages its coronation ceremonies on Nov. 26 (Nov. 27 in Manila).
The Philippines’ Rachel Peters is among the top picks of online bettors for this year’s Miss Universe, with one site putting her on third spot. But Thai bet Maria Poonlertlarp and South African Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters shared the top spot in three betting sites from different parts of the globe.
Bettors at Covers.com, a US-based site primarily serving followers of collegiate and professional sports leagues, put Peters on third place, scoring +600 odds, while Nel-Peters took the top slot at +250, followed closely by Poonlertlarp at +300.
Pinnacle.com, based in the United Kingdom, puts the Thai delegate at the top spot with 5.11 odds from bettors, followed closely by the South African beauty at 5.67, while the Filipino beauty queen placed sixth with a score of 11.21.
Down Under, bettors at WilliamHill.com placed their money on Poonlertlarp with a score of 3.5, followed by Nel-Peters with 4.5. Peters tied with Kara McCullough of the United States at fifth place with a score of 11.
But online betting sites could get it wrong. In the 65th Miss Universe edition staged in the Philippines in January, winner Iris Mittenaere of France did not figure at all in the top tiers of these sites.
In most betting portals, Colombia’s Andrea Tovar clinched the top spot. But she finished only third in the contest’s finals.
The Philippines’ third Miss Universe winner, Pia Wurtzbach, was not among the top pick of online bettors in the pageant’s 2015 edition, and so was her predecessor Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega of Colombia.
This year’s Miss Universe pageant will be staged at The Axis Theater of Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, where Wurtzbach earned her crown in a controversial finale that had host Steve Harvey mistakenly proclaiming first runner-up Ariadna Gutierrez of Columbia as the winner.
It was also the same venue of the pageant’s 2012 edition, where the Philippines’ Janine Tugonon placed second to Olivia Culpo of the United States.
This year’s Miss Universe pageant will adopt a different system in selecting its semifinalists.
Contestants will be split into geographical regions, with each region having four representatives who will advance to the next stage of the competition.
Based on preliminary interviews and the swimsuit and gown competitions, the judges will choose three candidates each from the three regions: The Americas (North, Central and South) plus the Caribbean; Asia, Africa and Oceania; and Europe.
Contenders from each of the regions who garnered the most number of online votes will join the nine qualifiers in the semifinal round.
Rounding out the Top 16 are four wild card contestants who will be coming from any of the three geographical regions.
The pageants’ new owner WME/IMG has been reinventing the pageant since acquiring it from Donald Trump in 2015, along with the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA tilts.
Among the changes that pageant followers have observed is the competition’s focus on the participants’ background, aside from their looks and stage presentation.
This year’s Miss USA, for example, is a scientist who received her title from her predecessor who happens to be a soldier.
Poonlertlarp is a business administration graduate with a master’s degree in marketing, while Venezuela’s Keysi Sayago is a mechanical engineer.
Last year’s winner is a dentistry student, while her runner-up, part-Filipino Raquel Pelissier, is an opthalmologic researcher.
But Peters, who completed her International Baccalaureate at the British School in Phuket, Thailand, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business, Tourism and Events from La Trobe University in Australia, said she remains unfazed by these developments.
“I think I’m just as qualified as the other girls,” Peters told the Inquirer during her send-off press conference at Novotel Manila-Araneta Center in Quezon City earlier this month.
“At the end of the day I don’t think it’s about what you studied or what you graduated with. I think it’s about how much you want the crown and how well you prepared for it,” she added.
Peters continued: “I think these days, (judges) choose (winners) based on what they have inside. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with (her) background.”
But thanks to Wurtzbach, she’s been getting a lot of tips and advice that’s “really important,” she said.
Wurtzbach will be one of the judges in the 2017 Miss Universe edition.