LAS VEGAS – A new Miss Universe will be crowned on November 26, as the annual international beauty pageant comes to The Axis theater at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas. And since Sin City is playing host, it’s only natural to break down the betting odds on who will be crowned Miss Universe 2017.
At the top of the board is “Miss South Africa” Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters at +250, followed closely by “Miss Thailand” Maria Poonlertlarp at +300, according to sister site Covers.com.
Miss South Africa won her title under controversy, after fellow contestants stated that she had a “special relationship” with two judges and received preferential treatment during the national competition. While she is the betting favorite, it’s always nice to have a bad guy to root against.
Behind those frontrunners are Miss Philippines at +600, Miss Columbia at +800, and Miss Venezuela and Miss USA, both at +1,100 odds.
Could the home-field advantage give current “Miss USA” Kára McCullough an edge? That last Miss USA to win Miss Universe was Olivia Culpo, who won the 2012 crown at The Axis in Las Vegas – the same venue for this year’s pageant. The United States does claim the most Miss Universe titles at eight, followed by Venezuela with five.
Rounding out the notables are Miss France at +1,400, Miss Mexico, Miss Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Miss India all at +1,600, Miss Jamaica at +2,000, and Miss Canada - Lauren Howe – at +2,200.
Miss Puerto Rico, Danna Hernández, presents good value at +3,300 odds to win Miss Universe. Not only would a Puerto Rico win be a rare bright spot for the Hurricane-ravaged country, but Puerto Rico has a history of Miss Universe success, boasting five winners– the last coming in 2006.
Looking for a live long shot? How about “Miss Iraq” Sarah Idan, who will be the first Miss Iraq to compete in the Miss Universe pageant since 1972. The musician from Bagdad, priced at +10,000, was actually the runner-up for her national crown.
But when it was discovered that original winner was married and divorced, which is against the Miss Iraq pageant rules, she was stripped of her title and Idan was crowned the new Miss Iraq. Seems like beauty pageants are all a little crazy no matter the county.
Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Covers.com, a site also owned by Tribune. You can follow @Covers on Twitter.