New Miss Universe And Former Miss India Opens Up About Steve Harvey Making Her Meow, Which Led To Backlash

Steve Harvey had a pageant gaffe a few years back when he accidentally announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe pageant. That was 2015, and in the years subsequent he quietly (or at least mostly quietly) continued to host the pageant with only the occasional fanfare over the gig. That is until this year when he asked Miss India to do animal impressions instead of answering a serious question. The internet was not pleased, but now the new Miss Universe herself has spoken out. 

During this year’s pageant, Miss India contestant Harnaaz Sandhu was asked to do an impression of a cat. If you saw the footage, she took the question from host Steve Harvey in stride and people during the broadcast were clapping, but the moment left viewers at home wondering why in the Sam Hill the question was asked of her in the first place. In fact a lot of those viewers were upset by Steve Harvey’s line of questioning, giving other contestants were asked real questions about their thoughts and accomplishments. 

People on the Internet may have been  upset over the moment, but in fact Miss India said after the moment that she was happy to banter with Steve about her love of animals and make an attempt at a cat impression on the stage. She defended the Miss Universe Pageant host to Insider, recalling,

We were having so much fun, and that was my ultimate goal, to make everyone laugh. And when you have a great human being like Steve next to you, then you just can't stop being yourself. And I was just having fun and enjoying myself.

To note, in order to understand this story more fully, the Celebrity Family Feud host preempted his question with “I hear you do some fairly good animal impressions,” so it didn’t come off like the first time that Miss India had ever attempted a cat’s meow. She also said during the broadcast that she “loves cats” and asked everyone to “brace” themselves before her startling meows went viral. Her impression is really notable, but viewers still seemed taken aback given the other types of questions Harvey had been asking. Now, it's worth mentioning Miss India did say the question from Steve Harvey was a surprise.

I was like, 'Wait, they want me to do that on the Miss Universe world stage?' But then I thought, 'This is my time to shine and my time to showcase one of my great talents, and why not? We're all here to embrace ourselves.

Yet, at the end of the day Harnaaz Sandhu says that she was happy to do her best animal impersonation. It showed a fun side of her people don’t often get to see on a pageant stage. In addition, she said that by answering the question, she showed great courage. 

The ultimate motto of having such questions is to have fun. We are all different. We have different stories, and everyone was asked something related to their life. I'm happy I was asked a fun question because, at the end of the day, it definitely gets so serious. But after that question, I was feeling so comfortable. We are here to celebrate ourselves. It's not about being the perfect beauty pageant girl. It's about being yourself on the stage, and I think it takes huge courage to do something like that.

At the end of the day, it all worked out. Miss India was crowned the winner of the Miss Universe pageant. She is the first representative from India to win the pageant in 21 years and will hold the crown until her successor is announced, likely by Steve Harvey, at next year's event. Paraguay's Nadia Ferreira was the runner-up. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.