Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer
It was definitely not the expected finish, and yesterday morning, it was clear that Jamaicans were not the only ones left disappointed at Kaci Fennell's fourth runner-up placement at the 63rd Miss Universe pageant, held in Doral, Florida, on Sunday night.
The short-haired bombshell had been a crowd favourite and a front-runner in the competition from the outset, and many were expecting her to be the first Jamaican to take home the Miss Universe crown.
More than 100 patrons turned up at the official viewing party, held at the Triple Century Sports Bar in New Kingston. The atmosphere oozed excitement, and, after the top five were announced, the crowd could hardly be contained, with many declaring Fennell the clear winner. "It's her's to win now," said one person. Another said, "I don't know why they don't just give her the crown now and stop wasting people's time."
However, the dreaded question-and-answer segment was still to come, and this was the make or break moment.
All the top five contestants were caught off-guard, not so much by the questions, but by the accents of the judges reading them. Fennell faced this issue, which resulted in her giving an answer many considered less than impressive. Nevertheless, the crowd rallied behind the stunning 22-year-old.
Luckily, the people's choice question was still to come, and with the contestants asked to name their country's greatest contribution to the world, the audience at Triple Century felt Fennell's redemption moment had arrived. And so it had. Although clearly nervous, she remained calm and gave a great answer, naming Bob Marley's musical gift and Usain Bolt's athletic prowess.
Any doubts that had arisen in the first segment were quickly washed away by Fennell's answer, and everything seemed to be back on track. Therefore, when the final announcements were made and Fennell was placed fifth, the crowd at Triple Century was disappointed, with many crying foul and claiming Fennell was clearly the most outstanding of the five contestants.
"I still can't believe it. Fifth place," said one patron. "I mean, I was looking for the win, and, if not, at least third place, but fifth! Something clearly nuh right!"
SOCIAL MEDIA UPROAR
She seemed to reflect the general mood inside the venue, and, clearly, across social media. As soon as the announcement was made, social media was in an uproar. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter users all used their platform to voice disappointment and anger at the placing.
In less than an hour after the announcement, the hashtag '#MissJamaicaShould'veWon' was trending on Twitter, while Facebook was swamped with memes stating that the competition had been rigged and Fennell was robbed. Things were only to escalate further after a video of some of the Miss Universe contestants lifting Fennell and shouting 'Jamaica!' surfaced, clearly showing that they, too, believed she deserved the crown.
The morning after the announcement, tempers still had not cooled. Though Miss Colombia was crowned the 63rd Miss Universe, yesterday morning, instead of stories about the winner, the Internet was filled with stories about Miss Jamaica, particularly ones questioning her fifth-place finish.
Several media houses, including the United Kingdom's Daily Mail and the Washington Post, carried stories of reactions after the winner was named, stating that social media users believed Fennell deserved the top spot and was robbed of the crown in a competition many feel was rigged.
Some users blasted the pageant for not accepting Kaci's non-traditional look, stating that it was her unconventional pixie-cut that cost her the title. They declared that if she had the usual long tresses, the result would have been different.
Others spoke about race, stating that Fennell lost because the pageant world is still not a place for black girls.
Nevertheless, despite Fennell's fifth-place finish, many Jamaicans are still proud, stating that more important than winning is the fact that Fennell's run in the competition brought the nation together. "Even though she didn't win, I am proud, overwhelmed, to say the least," said one patron. "Look at the crowd she drew in Half-Way Tree. The last time I saw that was with Tessanne Chin and people expected that. This came as a total surprise, so I'm satisfied, and the rest of Jamaica should be, too."