4 Miss Universe 'sandwich' wins - including South Africa!

Zozibini Tunzi (Photo: Getty)
Zozibini Tunzi (Photo: Getty)

Ask any pageant fanatic, and they will tell you that Miss Universe is one of the most prestigious pageant titles in the world. 

While Venezuela, Philippines and Puerto Rico reign supreme at the international pageant, most countries have taken the crown at least once - with four securing sandwich victories! 

ALSO READ: These countries reign supreme at Miss Universe and Miss World - and SA is not that far behind

What's a sandwich win, you ask? And, no it doesn't have anything to do with luncheon meat! 

The term is used to describe a victory when a country secures a win on alternate years. When a country wins the pageant in the first year, does not win the next year, but is crowned again in the third year, it's referred to as a sandwich win. 

The USA is the only country to have nabbed a sandwich win not once but twice in its pageant history at Miss Universe.


1. The world witnessed its first-ever sandwich win in 1956 when Carol Morris from the USA was crowned Miss Universe two years after Miriam Stevenson in 1954.

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MISS UNIVERSE 1954 - #PageantHistoriesMU The 3rd Miss Universe pageant was held on July 24, 1954 at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California, USA. There were 33 competitors. Miss USA, 21-year-old Miriam Stevenson won the competition. She was the first American Miss Universe and the first winner to be crowned by the outgoing Miss Universe (Christiane Martel of France). MISS UNIVERSE 1954: Miriam Stevenson (USA) 1st Runner Up: Martha Rocha (Brazil) 2nd Runner Up: Virginia Lee Wai-Chun (Hong Kong) 3rd Runner Up: Regina Ernst (Germany) 4th Runner Up: Ragnhild Olausson (Sweden) AWARDS Miss Congeniality: Efi Androulakakis (Kingdom of Greece) Most Popular: Martha Rocha (Brazil) WINNER PROFILE Miriam Jacqueline Stevenson was the first Miss USA to hold the Miss Universe crown. Her win over Brazil's Martha Rocha was memorable because there was a tie between the two women for the crown. As Catalina Swimwear was the major sponsor of the pageant in its early years, the tie-breaking judgment finally came down to who had the better physical figure, which went in Stevenson's favor, for she had "fitter" hips. Stevenson gave the car she won in her Miss Universe prize package to Rocha as a consolatory prize. - #MissUniverse #MissUniverse1954 #MiriamStevenson #MarthaRocha #VirginiaLeeWaiChun #ReginaErnst #RagnhildOlausson #MissUSA #MissBrazil #MissHongKong #MissGermany #MissSweden

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2. 23 years later Maritza Sayalero took home Venezuela's first Miss Universe title, followed by Irene Saez in 1981.


3. Remember when we said the USA achieved the feat twice?

Still, the only country to do so, Chelsi Smith and Brook Lee won the Miss Universe crown respectively in 1995 and 1997. 

At 18 years old Margaret was the first South African to win the Miss Universe title in 1978. And for 39 years she was the only South African to do so until Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters brought home the crown in 2017.

In 2018, Tamaryn Green from Paarl narrowly missed out on the title, placing second. But 2019 marked the fourth sandwich win when Zozibini Tunzi reigned supreme

Special mention: While Miss Universe scooped four sandwich victories, Miss World has achieved success with this rare win only once. India's Diana Hayden and Yukta Mookhey won in 1997 and 1999 respectively.

ALSO READ: 5 Miss South Africa winners who took home the crown on a second (or third!) attempt

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