Business & Social Media

Was Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe Mistake a PR Stunt?

Was the Steve Harvey Miss Universe Mistake a PR Stunt?

Published on Entrepreneur 12/22/2015


I have to admit, I had no idea the 2015 Miss Universe pageant was taking place this past Sunday. I found out about the contest when video replays hit the Internet. The big story was host Steve Harvey mistakenly naming Miss Colombia, Miss Universe, instead of the real winner, Miss Philippines. The news and videos went viral as we watched Miss Colombia being crowned and receiving the adulation of the crowd. She stood there for what seemed like minutes until Steve Harvey appeared to apologize and announce he had made a terrible mistake. The most awkward moment came when they removed the crown from Miss Columbia and placed it on Miss Philippines. Ouch.

The internet buzzed with comments and memes making fun of Harvey. The elimination card seemed easy to read, so it was hard to imagine making such a mistake.

Harvey himself took to Twitter to apologize.


There was plenty of sympathy for both finalists. My personal Facebook had dozens of posts about them and Steve Harvey. Soon national TV and media had the story all over. #MissUniverse2015, #SteveHarvey, and #SteveHarveyWinners became trending topics on Twitter. And of that wasn’t enough attention, Donald Trump quickly weighed in on Twitter too.


This was the biggest embarrassment in the history of the Miss Universe pageant. This was as bad as it gets.

Or was it?

According to EW (Entertainment Weekly), Fox’s telecast of the Miss Universe Pageant had 6.2 million viewers and a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49. That’s down 15% in that demo and down 18% in viewers from last year. A business is in trouble when it loses Donald Trump as its promoter, has been in steady decline for years and is down 18% year to year – unless you bring in Steve Harvey to rescue the event with his (intentional?) blunder.

I decided to conduct my own, non scientific poll on Twitter, about people’s awareness of Sunday night’s pageant. I asked whether people had watched the event or only heard about it afterwards. Of the 1500+ respondents, 28% saw it live and 45% only knew about the pageant after they saw a video replay. That means twice as many people saw the winner being crowned afterwards. If we translate that into actual viewers, it means Steve Harvey’s misread got the Miss Universe pageant an additional 12 million viewers!

This is the kind of mistake a PR firm dreams of. It’s the kind of mistake, when planned perfectly, can triple your audience. It might be the kind of mistake that stops the decline of the Miss Universe pageant’s viewership. Only time will tell.

Was it an intentional mistake? Steve Harvey knows for sure. And just maybe, so does the PR firm of the Miss Universe pageant.


And an update since this article was published on Entrepreneur: Steve Harvey was given a contract extension.

From “He was funny, he was informative, he’s high energy, he’s got a great following,” chief content officer Mark Shapiro said recently on the Jim Rome Show. “I definitely want him back, and I would hate to see him not come back. He’s going to want a shot to redeem himself.”

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2 replies »

  1. I thought it was a PR stunt when I saw it! If it was an actual mistake, it’s probably the best mistake ever to make, seeing as Steve Harvey is also a partner in the pageant. Suspicious?

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