Harvey got off on the wrong foot during his opening monologue Sunday when he referenced his 2015 error in which he accidentally crowned Miss Colombia the winner, only to later name Miss Philippines as the correct one. “Colombia’s gotten over that,” he said. “They’ve forgiven me. Well, not all of them. The cartel’s still tripping a little bit.”
Later in the show, while announcing that Miss Colombia, Gabriela Tafur, had qualified for the Top 20, he reread the announcement twice in a nod to his previous blunder. Tafur appropriately responded with her own quip.
“Are you sure you read correctly?” she asked. “Should I go back? Tell me what to do!” The audience laughed as she added, “You’re forgiven, don’t worry.”
Harvey referred to the cartel yet again, responding, “You’ve forgiven me. The cartel has not. They’re not handling it the same way.”
The joke fell flat as the audience remained silent — and the Internet wasn’t having it, either.
On Monday morning, Miss Colombia herself weighed in. “Cartel jokes are not funny @IAmSteveHarvey,” Tafur tweeted to the tune of more than 15,000 likes.
Harvey has yet to respond to his contentious comments about Colombia, but he did post two seemingly suggestive tweets directed at his “haters.”
“Quit tripping every time something negative happens to you,” one read. A few hours later he followed up with another: “Hate is louder than love, but love is stronger than hate. If you focus on those who love you, you can blow over the haters. Most people hate you only because of the way other people love you. #MondayMotivation.”
Harvey’s cartel comments weren’t the only controversial part of the evening. When he finished reading a question about climate change to Miss South Africa, he visibly rolled his eyes as he waited for her response. Some viewers said the host’s reaction was disrespectful, while others praised him for his perceived desire to keep politics out of the show.
At another point in the telecast, Harvey appeared to announce the wrong winner of the national costume portion of the competition, naming Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados. It’s not clear why Miss Malaysia’s Shweta Sekhon came onstage to accept the award instead, but she took the mic from Harvey and seemingly corrected him: “It’s not Philippines, it’s Malaysia.”
The confusing interaction caused Harvey to defend himself, who said he read the teleprompter correctly and that it said Miss Philippines was the winner.
“Well, let me explain something, I just read that in the teleprompter,” Harvey said. “Y’all gotta quit doing this to me. I can read! They are trying to fix it now, but this is what they did to me back in 2015.”
It turns out Harvey was correct in his initial announcement. The Miss Universe Organization took to Twitter on Monday to confirm that Harvey had it right and that Miss Philippines was indeed the winner of the national costume competition, though they didn’t provide an explanation as to why Miss Malaysia thought otherwise.