Hours before the culmination of the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand, the Philippines’ Catriona Gray figured in the top tier of bookies, making her one of the favorites to take home the crown in a field of 94 delegates, the biggest haul of aspirants gathered by the global tilt.
But Puerto Rico’s Kiara Ortega is just right on her heels.
Bettors on the site Pinnacle have the two delegates at the top tier, with the Filipino singer and model topping the list with 2.54 odds. The Puerto Rican model got 3.47.
The two also earned equal chances of winning from bettors at Bovada, who gave both delegates a rating of +500.
However, South Africa’s Tamaryn Green may still pose an upset, possibly bagging a back-to-back victory for her country and earning the crown currently held by her compatriot Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.
The senior medical student ranked third on Pinnacle (6.35), and fourth on Bovada (+1200).
Green is also involved in a five-way tie with Gray and Ortega at betonline.ag, along with Sarah Rose Summers from the United States, and host delegate Sophida Kanchanarin, with an odds rating of +700.
Summers and Kanchanarin also tied for the second spot at Bovada at +800 odds of winning.
The US delegate’s chances, however, were dashed by a controversy when a video footage surfaced, showing her and two other delegates supposedly making insensitive remarks about fellow contestants who do not speak good English.
Another controversial delegate in the Miss Universe 67th edition is Spain’s Angela Ponce, the first transgender woman to qualify for the global finals since the international tilt started accepting applicants who have undergone sex reassignment surgery in 2012.
Meanwhile, the website Tom’s Page of Miss Universe Mania (tpmum.com), which has been following the triumvirate of Miss Universe Organization pageants Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA since 1997, also pit Gray and Ortega against each other, eventually giving the Puerto Rican delegate the upper hand, placing the Filipino aspirant second.
“Catriona has strong interview skills and carries her body very well, and is passionate about the arts,” the website noted.
As for Ortega, the website said: “Kiara is incredibly stunning, but she just exudes a genuine warmth and friendliness when she speaks, and I think she possesses all the right qualities for the job of Miss Universe.”
In 2017, the website predicted Thailand’s Maria Poonlertlarp as the winner, and the eventual queen Nel-Peters as a semifinalist.
For 2015, it predicted the Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach to only finish in the top 5, but the Filipino queen went on to become the country’s third winner.
The first all-female panel of judges for the global tilt includes two Filipinos—US-based fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, and Richelle Singson-Michael, daughter of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, who organized the 65th Miss Universe pageant
Steve Harvey is hosting the competition for the third year in a row.