It has been almost four years, but Steve Harvey is still finding himself having to explain what happened at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant. After previously saying that announcing the wrong winner was an honest mistake on his part, the comedian is now saying there was more to the incident than that.
Harvey famously announced the incorrect winner for the competition, falsely naming Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the victor instead of Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach, who was the rightful winner.
During the Jan. 21 episodes of Dr. Phil McGraw’s new podcast “Phil in the Blanks,” Harvey explained that the pageant, which had just been purchased from Donald Trump, decided to introduce the second runner-up, the winner, and the first runner-up. That was a change from years past, which just announced the first runner-up and the winner, effectively giving away who won the title before it was actually stated.
“But on your way down, we want you to say, whoever does not win, the first runner-up will take over the duties of Miss Universe in the event that she will not have the ability to do so,” he explains around the 59:30 mark. “So we practice it I can’t tell you how many times [with just two names]. Well, the lady that used to run the old pageant, she decides we’re not doing that. So, she puts a third name on the card, don’t tell nobody. No one knows this but this woman.
“But here’s the problem: the teleprompter don’t know it,” he continues. “So, I do the third runner-up, I got two people standing there. I got Miss Colombia and the Philippines and I got an earbud in, I got a director talking to me. The teleprompter says, ‘And the new 2015 Miss Universe is…’ just like we’ve been practicing. Well, little do I know, on this card, this woman done put the winner in the corner. My thumb is on the name of the winner. I never saw the third name because we never looked for it.”
Harvey explained when he was handed the card he only saw two names. Then, he proceeded to recite the first one doing as the director told him to and said Miss Colombia was the pageant winner. Just a couple of minutes after Harvey gets backstage, however, he got another memo from the director.
“The dude in my ear says, ‘You said the wrong name.’ What I said to him is not for television, podcast, internet, nothing,” the “Steve” host recalls. “I put together a combination of profanities that was one of the most beautiful combinations. If I was a fighter, this would be on the top plays on ESPN.”
The comedian said the director told him they’d get he mishap unraveled the next day in the press, but Harvey wanted the rightful winner to be announced that night. He walked back on the stage and did just that.
“I went out there, man, and I took all that heat,” Harvey says. “I even turned the card around and showed it to them; my mistake. … It was so nasty, man. It got ugly.”
He explained he got “hammered” by a Colombian reporter afterward who questioned how he could make such a huge mistake.
“I just couldn’t take it no more and I said, ‘Who the f are you talking to, man? ‘Cause I’m through with you. I’m trying to be nice. … You talking like you gon’ do something.’ … They got me out the room and I didn’t know how bad it was until the next morning.”
Harvey said he didn’t realize how major it was until he got support from those he encountered out and about, discovered he got cussed out in Spanish on social media and saw the media coverage when he touched down in Atlanta from Las Vegas.
“The part that hurt me was a friend of mine on CNN — a guy I thought was my friend — he was on there just lacing me,” he said. “I mean, who does that? This is the most bone-headed thing you’ve ever seen.
“I had done the whole show perfectly! You think I’d wait until the game-winning shot? It’s simple! All I gotta do is read, read, read and say what he tell me to say. … Nobody knew nothing,” he added.
It seems it’s necessary for Harvey to explain the situation again, since when he hosted the pageant last year, Miss Costa Rica jokingly advised him to “try to read carefully” if “they ever give you a really, really, really important envelope.”