The 72nd annual Miss Universe pageant is underway in San Salvador, El Salvador, with 85 stunning delegates from around the world competing for the coveted crown. Among the favorites is Karla Guilfú, the vibrant and articulate representative from Puerto Rico.
Guilfú has already made her mark in the preliminary competitions, wowing the judges with her poise, intelligence, and advocacy for mental health awareness. As she takes the stage tonight in the finals, all eyes are on the 25-year-old psychology student to see if she can bring home Puerto Rico’s 6th Miss Universe title.
Guilfú’s Journey to the Crown
Guilfú’s road to Miss Universe began last August when she was crowned Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2023, representing her hometown of Patillas. While new to the Miss Universe stage, Guilfú is no stranger to the pageant world.
In 2021, she was crowned Miss Supranational Puerto Rico and finished as the first runner-up at the Miss Supranational competition. This early success only fueled Guilfú’s pageant ambitions.
Since winning her national title, Guilfú has diligently prepared for Miss Universe while completing a graduate program in psychology. She has worked extensively with pageant coaches and stylists to perfect her walk, interview skills, and stage presence.
Advocating for Mental Health
One of Guilfú’s strongest assets throughout the competition has been her social impact initiative. As a mental health advocate, she started her own non-profit organization called Comencemos a Sanar (Let’s Begin Healing).
The organization aims to “positively impact the mental health of Puerto Ricans through educational projects, community outreach, and the promotion of social justice,” Guilfú explained.
Her firsthand experience volunteering after Hurricane Maria deepened Guilfú’s passion for mental health advocacy. She aims to break down stigma and connect people with critical resources.
Eyeing the Crown
As the pageant heads into the final stretch tonight, Guilfú is considered a frontrunner to succeed reigning Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel of the United States.
Bookmakers have Guilfú at 5/2 odds to take the title, making her an early favorite alongside Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel at 11/4 odds.
Guilfú credits her strong showing to staying focused at the moment:
“During the preliminary competition, I focused on giving my best, not worrying about other contestants’ performances,” she said. “That focus on my purpose is what has brought me support and success so far.”
All signs point to Guilfú having an excellent chance to bring home the crown and end Puerto Rico’s 17-year Miss Universe title drought.
Dazzling Preliminary Performance
Guilfú first captured attention during the pivotal preliminary competition on Thursday. Clad in a dazzling gold gown, she captivated the audience and impressed the judges.
The figure-hugging dress featured crystal starburst embellishments hand-sewn along the torso and back. Five stars paid homage to Puerto Rico’s five previous Miss Universe winners. A sixth star represented Guilfú’s hopes to join their ranks tonight.
In the athletic swimsuit competition, Guilfú continued wowing onlookers with her stage presence and radiant smile.
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Her preliminary performance earned her a spot near the top of almost every hot list ranking the contestants. She’ll look to continue that momentum into tonight’s finals.
Surprise Gown for Finals Night?
Ever strategic, Guilfú has hinted she will swap out her preliminary gown for an even more jaw-dropping number at tonight’s finals. The move would surprise viewers and help her stand out from the pack.
Guilfú coyly teased that her new gown will leave audiences thrilled:
“I want to surprise you all. I want you to see me come out and say – wow, Puerto Rico came out like that? Yes, that’s what I want to provoke,” she said.
While keeping details under wraps, Guilfú promised she would look “enchanting” in the new show-stopping gown. All signs point to it being designed by a Thai fashion house.
Nationwide Support in Puerto Rico
Guilfú enters the finals buoyed by widespread support from her fellow Puerto Ricans. Across the island, fans have rallied behind the hometown beauty queen’s historic quest.
The contest will air locally on Wapa TV, and millions are expected to tune in to cheer Guilfú on. Many will host viewing parties to follow her journey.
Fans have also flooded social media with messages of encouragement using the hashtag #PorLaCorona (ForTheCrown).
Former Miss Universe winners from Puerto Rico have shared good luck videos for Guilfú. If she succeeds tonight, she will become the island’s first Miss Universe since 2006.
Building Excitement for the Finale
Anticipation for Guilfú’s final performance has been building for weeks in Puerto Rico. Local media has provided nonstop coverage of her time in El Salvador.
The secretary of state and mayor wished her luck. Even President Nayib Bukele welcomed Guilfú to a special dinner.
Across San Salvador, locals have also rallied behind the Puerto Rican beauty queen. El Salvador last hosted Miss Universe in 1975, so her victory would mark a historic moment.
Guilfú has built substantial hype and momentum heading into tonight’s main event. Now, all eyes are on her to culminate her journey with a dazzling final performance.
What’s Next for Guilfú?
Win or lose tonight, Guilfú’s Miss Universe journey is only the start of the bright future that lies ahead of her.
The poised and eloquent mental health advocate has star power that transcends pageants. She plans to continue leveraging her platform to break barriers and empower people in need.
“ Pageants have given me a voice,” Guilfú said. “I want to use it to spread awareness and make meaningful change in my country.”
No matter the outcome tonight, one thing is clear – this is just the beginning of the multi-talented Puerto Rican sensation. Guilfú seems destined for greatness; however, the next few hours unfold.