Steve Harvey confuses viewers in Miss Universe costume announcement and gets slammed for cartel joke
This post has been updated after receiving clarification from the Miss Universe Organization about what went on.
Steve Harvey is at it again.
The Family Feud star caught heat on social media for another Miss Universe hosting performance gone awry, this time for appearing to mix up countries again and for making what many deemed an insensitive joke about another contestant at the competition in Atlanta on Sunday. This comes after his 2015 mistake at the same competition when he erroneously announced Miss Colombia as the winner when the crown actually belonged to Miss Philippines.
First, Harvey caught flack for seeming to confuse Miss Philippines and Miss Malaysia during the costume contest segment. Harvey announced Miss Philippines as the winner but implied that the contestant standing next to him, Miss Malaysia, was wearing the winning dress. “This is it right here,” Harvey said, gesturing to Miss Malaysia, Shweta Sekhon. “It’s not Philippines, it’s Malaysia,” Sekhon corrected, grabbing the mic from Harvey.
“Okay, well, let me explain something to you. I just read that in the teleprompter. Y’all got to quit doing this to me,” Harvey replied, addressing the show’s producers. “I can read, they said now, they’re trying to fix it now. See, this what they did to me back in 2015. Played me short like that. This is Malaysia. I really love this national costume of Malaysia. This is crazy.”
Viewers weren’t the only ones left confused. The Miss Universe organization’s official Twitter account seemed to also misinterpret Harvey, tweeting — and later deleting — that Miss Malaysia had won the costume contest before sending a new tweet naming Miss Philippines, Gazini Ganados, as the rightful winner.
On Monday, a representative for the Miss Universe Organization clarified to EW that Harvey was actually correct in announcing that Miss Philippines won the costume competition, adding that Miss Malaysia wasn’t aware that Miss Philippines would be announced first and “jumped the gun” when Harvey started with that news.
However, a representative for the Miss Universe Malaysia Organization told EW on Monday that it has “yet to receive the official statement from Miss Universe Organization with the confirmed result of the National Costume.”
The second incident of Sunday evening came when he called up Miss Colombia, Gabriela Tafur, and announced that she made the Top 20. In a nod to his 2015 mixup, Harvey made sure the audience saw that Colombia was the right country displayed on his card. When Tafur lightheartedly said she’s forgiven his mistake, Harvey responded, “You’ve forgiven me. They haven’t — the cartel, they’re not handling it the same way.”
Twitter was quick to blast Harvey for what many considered an insensitive joke. On Monday, Tafur tweeted that “Cartel jokes are not funny @IAmSteveHarvey.”
“Worst host ever @IAmSteveHarvey , absolutely disrespectful the joke of the ‘Cartels,'” Colombian entertainer Andrés Simón tweeted. “We are a great country full of good people and we don’t deserve that image anymore. Surprising how ignorant a host can be, recommend you to open a book once in a while. Joke [is] out of place!”
Due to his multi-year contract to host Miss America, Harvey has served as emcee of the global pageant every year since 2015. The winner of Miss Universe this year was Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa.
Even outside of Miss Universe, Harvey has been criticized for making comments that many people found xenophobic and offensive. In 2017, the comedian and Family Feud host had to apologize after making a joke during a dating segment on his talk show that a book titled How to Date White Women: A Practical Guide for Asian Men would just be one page.
Representatives for Harvey did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment. EW has also reached out to Miss Philippines and Miss Malaysia, and will update if we hear back.