Paula Shugart stepping down as Miss Universe president
MANILA, Philippines — Longtime Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart announced she would stepping down from her role, one that she's held since 1997.
Following the conclusion of the Miss Universe 2023 national costume show, co-host Nick Teplitz brought out Shugart onto the Jose Adolfo Pineda Arena stage in El Salvador to give her proclamation.
Shugart began her speech by praising El Salvador for hosting the pageant's 72nd edition — it was the country's first time to host Miss Universe since 1975 — and the initial hesitancy to stage the event there.
"I was told, 'We promise you the people of El Salvador will deliver, we will be ready, and we want to welcome the world to our country'," Shugart continued. "And as I said before, the pure passion and pride that I felt convinced me El Salvador would deliver. And El Salvador, you have delivered beyond our greatest expectations."
Several Salvadorians gave Shugart a standing ovation when she repeated her gratitude and praise in Spanish, some even waving their flags.
Shugart then proceeded to announce she would be ending her presidential tenure at Miss Universe after the coronation night on November 18 (the 19th in the Philippines).
She clarified that the decision was "months in the making" and wasn't a response to recent events, "I stayed because of my belief in El Salvador and my love for the Miss Universe brand."
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"I have always passionately believed that Miss Universe is not about any one woman, it's about community — our community — it's about the passionate fans, the titleholders, the national directors who have remained dedicated to this brand through thick and thin, and because of them the brand is strong and will remain resilient," Shugart continued.
Shugart reflected on the organization's rough state when she took over in 1997 and thanked the Miss Universe community for why it managed to remain afloat and in some ways improve.
"We taught women that true beauty is based in confidence and using your voice, we expanded our global reach, and focused on telling the stories of all these incredible