DOING SA PROUD: Melinda Bam was a firm favourite from the beginning . picture: Getty Images
It seems former Miss South Africa 2011, Melinda Bam’s, dreams of advancing far in the Miss Universe pageant came true last night.
Bam advanced to the final top 10 of the competition held at the Planet Hollywood hotel and casino in Las Vegas on Wednesday night but lost the crown to Miss United States of America, Olivia Culpo.
The first runner-up was Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon, and Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, came third after the top five beauty queens answered brief questions posed by the judges.
Culpo takes over from last year’s winner Leila Lopes, who was the first ever Miss Universe from Angola.
Miss Guatemala Laura Godoy was chosen as Miss Congeniality after the two-hour pageant that featured live performances by US pop group Train and Nigerian-born Australian singer and dancer Timomatic.
By midday yesterday, Bam was the trending topic on social networking site, Twitter, with a few saying the votes were rigged.
One Twitter follower wrote “So Melinda Bam did not win....even though she was top of the leader board throughout the build up; (sic) at least she made top 10 #MissUniverse.”
Another posted “Pity about Melinda Bam not making top 5, let alone winning Miss Universe. Our SA women are amazing – plus Miss Bam is gorg. (sic) #confusion.”
Former Miss SA second runner-up 2002, Bridget Masinga Khati, tweeted, “My girl @melindabam placed in Top 10 at the Miss Universe pageant. Well done honey. The focus and determination you showed make us proud.”
Before she left, Bam told us that if she doesn’t win the Miss Universe crown then she’ll return home to launch her new swimwear line, Bamshell.
She worked with one of SA’s prolific swimwear designers, Dax Martin, to conceptualise the brand for women who enjoy the good life but also like staying fit and healthy.
Bam’s national gift to empower the Best Buddies initiative got the highest bid at the Miss Universe auction.
Culpo will travel the world for the next year representing the Miss Universe Organisation and a charity of her choice.
After reaching the top five, Culpo was asked to name one thing she would never do again. “Picking on my siblings growing up,” she replied.
The contest held a moment of silence for the 20 children and six staff gunned down at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on 14 December.