Iris Mittenaere, a dental surgery student from France, has been crowned Miss Universe 2017. The event, which was hosted in Manila, Philippines, on Sunday had Haiti’s Raquel Pelissier placed as the first runner-up while Colombia’s Andrea Tovar finished as the second runner-up. The top six contestants included Philippines’ Maxine Medina, Thailand’s Chalita Suansane and Kenya’s Mary Esther.

Mittenaere, who is 23 years old, wishes to use the platform to spread awareness about oral and dental hygiene. She also has keen interest in cooking and travelling and loves extreme-sports. The hosts for the event included Ashley Graham (she was the the first plus-size model to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue), US TV show host Steve Harvey  (who had confused names and awarded the wrong winner in last year’s Miss Universe Pageant).

Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen, who was also crowned in Manila 23 years ago, was one of the judges. Bengaluru girl Roshmitha Harimurhty, who was Miss India Universe this year, couldn’t make it to the top 13 in the competition

In a video posted on Instagram by Sen on Sunday, she was seen walking down the Miss Universe stage, with the following words accompanying the background music, “This is it. The stage that changed my life 23 years ago, where India made history. What an honour it has been to represent my country. As I walk this stage one last time, I want you to know, I love you very, very much. This is for you, India. Miss Universe 2016, Manila, Philippines.”

Mittenaere, who hails from the small town of Lille in northern France, was visibly surprised on being declared the winner out of 86 hopeful contestants from all around the world. In the final deciding question, the top three finalists were asked to talk about a failure in their life and explain what they learned from the incident. To this Mittenaere replied without elaborating or being too specific, “I’ve failed several times in my life… when you fail, you have to be elevated and you have to try again and keep going … I have failed before, but for me, this is the great first opportunity.”

Read More by Amrita Paul