'The worst week of my life': Steve Harvey recalls 'painful' Miss Universe name mix up
In a Thursday episode of the "Comedy Gold Minds with Kevin Hart" podcast, the TV personality and comedian reflected on his infamous Miss Universe blunder, in which he announced the wrong winner during the 2015 pageant. He named Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez, who was really first runner-up, as the winner instead of Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who won the competition.
"It was a painful (expletive) night there, dog. Oh God. I didn't know the pain I was in. I didn't know how bad the mistake was," Harvey said.
According to Harvey the mistake wasn't really his fault. The "Family Feud" host said when they ran through the show at rehearsal, they would only read two names: the second runner-up and Miss Universe. Harvey said a last minute change to read three names on stage the night of the show created the chaos.
"Well, in the teleprompter after I announced the second runner-up, the teleprompter said, 'And the new 2015 Miss Universe is...', " Harvey said. "The dude in my ear, said, 'Read the next name on the card, Steve. Hold, hold, hold.' I looked at the next card. I said, 'Miss Colombia!' "
USA TODAY has reached out to Miss Universe for comment.
Harvey said he was told "good job," and he went backstage, not knowing he made a mistake until someone on his team let him know that the name he read was really the first runner-up.
But Harvey said what he did next was what he considers "stupid."
"I took my stupid (expletive) back out there," he said. "I should have let them announce it the next day in the newspaper. I wouldn't have caught none of the hell I caught."
He added: "I really didn't make no (expletive) mistake. I did what they told me in my ear and I read that teleprompter. I took the card out there and showed the third name that they handed to me from the stage, but I had my thumb on it, it wasn't no third name."
Harvey said the next morning "it was the headline in every country" and resulted in harassment from people writing him obscene letters in different languages.
"It was the worst week of my life," Harvey said.
Since then, Harvey has gone on to host more Miss Universe pageants, including the most recent one in 2019 – where he also made a mistake.
In a strange mix up, host Harvey introduced the winner of the national costume contest, and after showing a photo of Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados in costume and declaring her the winner, Harvey said, "This is it right here." He then introduced the contestant beside him, who was very clearly in a different outfit than the one that was just shown on screen.
During the 2019 show Harvey replied: "Let me explain something to you. I just read that in the teleprompter. Y'all got to quit doing this to me. I can read. … Now, they are trying to fix it now. See? This is what they did to me back in 2015 – played me short like that."
Contributing: Leora Arnowitz