Sheynnis Palacios has made history at this year’s Miss Universe pageant.
The 23-year-old Nicaraguan model and beauty pageant titleholder was crowned the 2023 Miss Universe at the culmination of the annual beauty pageant, which took place over the weekend in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador.
Palacios’ win marks the first-ever time a Nicaraguan woman has won Miss Universe. She had previously represented Nicaragua in the 2017 Teen Miss Universe pageant, placing in the top 10, and in the 2021 Miss World pageant.
Prior to becoming Miss Universe, Palacios was working as a model, television presenter, and journalist in Nicaragua, and presented a show called Entiende tu mente, which discussed topics related to mental health.
The winners of 84 countries’ national pageants had competed at this year’s Miss Universe, judged by a panel including model Halima Aden, Queer Eye star Carson Kressley, TikTok influencer Avani Gregg and two former Miss Universe winners, Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad & Tobago (Miss Universe 1977) and Iris Mittenaere of France (Miss Universe 2016).
Twenty semifinalists were announced at the beginning of Saturday night’s proceedings following the results of the preliminary competition (and a global fan vote). After the swimsuit round, the field was narrowed to 10 — seeing the elimination of the first “curvy” contestant to make the pageant’s semifinals, Miss Nepal, as well as the first contestant to choose a burkini as their swimsuit, Miss Pakistan. The evening gown round cut the number of contestants in half again.
Miss Colombia Camila Avella and Miss Puerto Rico Karla Guilfú, rounded out the top five, while another member of the top 10, Spain’s Athenea Pérez, was crowned the pageant’s Miss Congeniality.
Palacios succeeds the 2022 Miss Universe, R’Bonney Gabriel of the USA.