‘I Read What Was In the Teleprompter’: Steve Harvey Says He Regrets Taking Full Responsibility for 2015 Miss Universe Mishap, Places Blame on Pageant Director and Staff

Steve Harvey has regrets about the way he handled the infamous 2015 Miss Universe blunder.

The popular TV host was at the center of controversy when he announced the first runner-up, Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutiérrez, as the winner; the true victorious beauty was Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach. In an effort to correct his mistake, Harvey returned on stage minutes into the winner’s celebration to address the blunder. 

Shannon Sharpe and Steve Harvey Photo: “Club Shay Shay” podcast/YouTube

“Okay, folks, I have to apologize. The first runner-up is Colombia,” said Harvey as he announced Wurtzbach as the winner.

The crowd erupted into boos as he explained, “I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake. It was on the card. Horrible mistake,” he said, before turning over the card for cameras to capture what was written on it.

Almost a decade later, the 66-year-old now says he should have allowed the pageant organizers to correct the mishap. In a sit-down with Shannon Sharpe for the “Club Shay Shay” podcast, Harvey detailed his account of what led to the snafu.

For starters, the King of Comedy said that a change to how the winner is announced was the first domino to fall. Prior to the Miss Universe pageant being purchased by WME/IMG from Donald Trump, tradition called for a first and second runner-up to be announced before the winner. Harvey said that was anti-climatic, so the new showrunners switched up things.

Related: Steve Harvey Responds After It Was Announced He Will No Longer Host the Miss Universe Pageant

“All week long, we rehearsed it. We not gonna do, we just gonna do a second runner-up. She get out the way and then next we gonna announce the winner,” he recalled.

The “Family Feud” host went on to explain that a member of Trump’s pageant regime did not agree with the change, so she took matters into her own hands, literally by writing the first runner-up’s name on the card.

Harvey said his thumb covered up that portion of the card’s information. Instead, he read the winner’s name as rehearsed — and as it was displayed on the Teleprompter. “Why else would I say, ‘And the new 2015 Miss Universe is’? It wasn’t but one more name on the card,” said Harvey.

It wasn’t until he was backstage that a member of his team informed him of the mistake. “I said, ‘I ain’t said s—t wrong. I read the card, and I read what was in the Teleprompter.’ He said, ’Nah, bruh, the lady, she put the name down here. You supposed to read that one.’ I said, ‘Dawg, that ain’t what we rehearsed,’ ” the entertainment veteran recalled.

Harvey then quipped, “I ain’t stupid!” Despite being told that pageant organizers planned to fix the issue in the newspaper the following day, Harvey regrettably still chose to address the matter on live TV. “Stupidest s—t I ever did. I should have let ‘em fix it in the newspaper,” he told the former NFL player.

He continued, “My stupid a— walked right out there and took the full hit, man. I took it dead in the teeth like it was all my fault, and it wasn’t.”

It wasn’t until after the show that the comedian realized how much outrage was spurred by the viral moment. In particular, he recalled a member of the Colombian press who was especially upset.

“This dude was in my a—… Took all of it, man. The cue card lady, her job gone. The director a— gon’ be in trouble ‘cause he said read the next name,” continued “The Steve Harvey Show” star.

He said he woke up the next morning to public scrutiny from critics online. “I had never seen anything like it. Bruh, I was everywhere,” he remembers. “I’ve never been ridiculed. A dude, man, that I really liked on CNN, I ain’t gon’ say his name, T.J. Holmes, tore my a—.”

Harvey, however, managed to take the fallout in stride, as he noted that in the end, it gave him exactly what he wanted.

“I had just wrote on my vision board, I was asking God to increase my global brand and persona. In 48 hours, Sharpe, my name had been Googled four billion times. Four billion impressions in 48 hours. I was the most famous person in the world,” said the two-time author. “God had increased my global brand and persona.”

He concluded that the online attack is the reason that he has armed security with him at all times to this day. In 2021, Harvey nearly slipped up and made a similar mistake. When announcing that year’s winner, he again read the information that was provided and said, “Congratulations, Portugal.”

The final two contestants were Miss Paraguay and Miss India. Quickly catching the flub, he said, “They wrote Portugal on the damn sign, trying to play me. They’re trying to get me again. But I’m not going for it this year,” he said before he named Paraguay as the crown beauty.

Last year, the pageant pivoted from its longtime host to enlist “The Real” host Jeannie Mai and Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpa.

Back to top