Pop Culture

Steve Harvey apologizes after crowning wrong contestant in Miss Universe pageant

The most memorable and bizarre ending in Miss Universe pageant history started with four words from host Steve Harvey: "I have to apologize."

On Sunday night, Harvey incorrectly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierre-Arevalo as the winner on live television.

But he was wrong; the actual Miss Universe winner was Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurztbach.

"I will take responsibility for this,'' a humbled Harvey said on the broadcast. "It was my mistake."

Harvey's flub resulted in the awkward moment when Miss Colombia had to give up her crown.

Outgoing Miss Universe Paulina Vega, who is also from Colombia, removed it and placed on the head of Miss Philippines.

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Harvey later tweeted apologies to the contestants and the audience. (An initial apology tweet was deleted after Harvey misspelled Philippines as "Philippians" and Colombia as "Columbia.")

"Unfortunately, a live telecast means that human error can come into play,'' the Miss Universe organization said in a statement to NBC News on Sunday night.

Despite the wild ending, Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines remained congenial backstage.

"Everything happens for a reason, so I'm happy,'' Gutierre-Arevalo said on the broadcast. "I'm happy for all what I did."

"It's a very non-traditional crowning,'' a dazed Wurtzbach said. "It's very 2015."

Donald Trump, who owned the Miss Universe organization for 15 years before selling it to WME/IMG in September, defended Harvey on TODAY Monday.

"It was something I guess that can happen,'' Trump told Matt Lauer. "Steve Harvey is a great guy. I like the way he got out and (apologized). It's certainly terrible for the young woman from Colombia. Things happen. It's live television."

Trump also suggested a solution.

"I'll tell you what I think I'd do,'' he said. "I would make them a co-winner. I think it would be cool. Because what happened to the girl from Colombia is devastating, to give it to her for a couple of minutes and take it away."

The screw-up received a huge response online, with people having a field day with his mistake and others defending Harvey.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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