Miss Puerto Rico has become Miss Universe five times: 1970, 1985, 1993, 2001, 2006. Miss Puerto Rico 2019 was the runner up for Miss Universe. The Miss Universe Pageant is very popular on the Island. So, would statehood mean that Puerto Rico can’t field a Miss Universe candidate?
Not according to Desireé Lowry, director of Puerto Rico’s Miss Universe pageant.
Miss Universe, a private company, has a history of accepting changes from participants in much less clear situations. For example, Miss Universe contestants from British Overseas Crown Dependencies, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have competed under a variety of different systems, from Miss United Kingdom in the 1950s to Miss England, then Miss England along with Miss Scotland and Miss Wales, then Miss United Kingdom again, then Miss Great Britain, and since 2010 — Miss United Kingdom once again. These decisions were made not by the Miss Universe franchise, but by the representatives of the various sections of the United Kingdom’s Miss Universe franchise. The Miss Universe UK franchise is now centered in Wales.
Guadeloupe, a French possession, used to participate in Miss Universe as Miss Guadeloupe. In 1984, France insisted that Miss Guadeloupe represent France in the competition instead of having its own contestant. In 1985, Guadeloupe boycotted the pageant, but Miss France 2020 is in fact Miss Guadeloupe, representing that island as state beauty queens represent the U.S. She is the third Miss France from Guadeloupe.
Clearly, there is a lot of flexibility in the system.
It’s not about status
Miss Scotland has won Miss Universe crowns for the United Kingdom four times. The political status of Scotland hasn’t changed significantly since 1707. Its position in the Miss Universe pageant has changed several times. Guadeloupe has been a région of France since 1974 and a possession of France since the 1940s. Its political status has not changed, but its status with Miss Universe has.
Puerto Rico’s Olympic team and Miss Universe candidates could be lost to Puerto Rico if the United States requested that change, even if Puerto Rico continues to be a territory. But they will not automatically end with statehood.
While the opportunity for full citizenship rights is more important for the people of Puerto Rico than the chance to compete in a beauty pageant, opponents of statehood like to seize on this emotional issue to suggest that Puerto Rico will lose experiences that are important to the Island. History suggests that they’re wrong.