Steve Harvey got the Miss Universe winner’s name wrong. Was it on purpose?

Social media users across the Web have one heck of a conspiracy theory, and it says something about the effects of live TV.
Dec 21, 2015

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  • Standup comedian and "Family Feud" host Steve Harvey's Sunday night didn't go as planned.

  • Or did it?

  • Harvey, as host of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, incorrectly announced the winner, telling the world that Ariadna Gutierrez of Colombia had won the honor, when in reality Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach, actually won the contest.

  • "Gutierrez got to experience the winning moment. She looked into the eyes of the woman she was more universal than," Vox reported. "She was awarded the crown and flowers. And then the music cut out."

  • Harvey apologized for his mistake and then announced that Gutierrez was the first runner-up, not the winner. After the two pageant contestants traded the winner's tiara, Harvey told the crowd that the card he was holding had the winner's name on it and that he had read it wrong.

  • Later Sunday night, Harvey apologized to the world again on Twitter, hoping that his misstep didn't affect the pageant.

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  • Since Harvey misread the name, a number of theories have popped up online about why he made the mistake, with some not even calling it a mistake at all.

  • "It was so perfect. Maybe … a little too perfect," The Washington Post reported.

  • Right after Harvey announced the wrong winner, the #MissUniverse2015 hashtag was the top trending item on Twitter with people on Facebook and Twitter saying Harvey's mistake was actually on purpose, the Post reported.

  • "You guys buying this? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but this smells fishy to me," Raoul Martinez, a San San Diego TV anchor, wrote on Facebook. "Sounds like a big PUBLICITY STUNT to get everyone talking about Miss Universe, when normally (let's be honest, now!) NO ONE would be talking about Miss Universe."

  • You guys buying this? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but this smells fishy to me. Sounds like a big PUBLICITY STUNT to get...

    Posted by Raoul Martinez Fox 5 San Diego on Sunday, December 20, 2015
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  • Others pointed out that the event's Snapchat story revealed that the teleprompter read "Miss Universe — Colombia," the Post reported. Because of this, social media users felt the Miss Universe pageant staged the announcement so it could gain attention and higher ratings.

  • "The Miss Universe pageant is hardly a ratings magnet — last year it garnered about 7.6 million viewers, its highest ratings in a decade, and the event is fairly under the radar in the United States," the Post reported. "Plus, a Sunday night in December (five days before Christmas, no less) is hardly an ideal time to air any program aside from football. The pageant, airing on Fox for the first time, had to make a splash. And it did. A big one."

  • Similar conspiracy theorists believe the mistake was a way for Harvey, host of Family Feud, to earn some publicity, or as a way for the pageant itself to make a mark in history, the Post reported.

  • Regardless of whether or not the mistake was on purpose, Harvey's gaffe isn't the only award ceremony mistake in recent memory. For years there's been a running rumor that actress Marisa Tomei won an Oscar in 1993 for her role in "My Cousin Vinny" because presenter Jack Palance couldn't read the award card, Gawker reported.

  • "If nothing else, the Tomei rumor will go down as one of the last great Hollywood conspiracy theories of the pre-Internet era," Gakwer reported. "It was much easier to miss things, much harder to retrieve what you'd already read and remembered just a bit of; in the '90s, if you missed SNL, you were out of luck."

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  • More recently during the Australia's Next Top Model competition in 2010, host Sarah Murdoch incorrectly announced Kelsey Martinovich to be the winner, when in reality Amanda Ware had won the contest, Business Insider reported.

  • "This is what happens when you have live TV, folks," Murdoch said after her mistake. "This is insane. Insane, insane, insane."

  • Both Harvey's and Murdoch's mishaps show the damage that live TV can do to reality stars and award show contestants, Mark Perigard wrote for The Boston Herald. Though many times live television is scripted, these awards shows aren't, and that can have devastating effects on the host, program and contestants.

  • "Live TV can be great, but the truth is, most 'live TV' is staged and rehearsed, at award shows and beauty pageants and news shows alike — right down to those stunning pearly white smiles. This was not," Perigard wrote.

  • In the case of the Miss Universe mistake, thanks to live TV, both contestants were left feeling regret, when it "should have been a moment to savor," he wrote.

  • "One can only hope," Perigard wrote, "that both ladies are able to move forward from this moment to better things."

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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

Website: https://twitter.com/HerbScribner

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