Miss Universe Disaster: 4 Theories on Why Steve Harvey Screwed Up

From over-extension to a publicity ploy, TheWrap examines possibilities for the blunder

Miss Universe pageant host Steve Harvey did a big ol’ belly flop while announcing the winner of this year’s event on Sunday night, mistakenly declaring Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez the victor before hastily correcting himself and stating that Miss  Philippines Pia Wurtzbach had actually won the contest, making first runner-up Gutierrez’s ownership of the crown as temporary as it was embarrassing.

How could showbiz veteran Harvey goof up so badly? TheWrap examines four possibilities for the jumbo-size gaffe.

1. Was it all in the card?

Following his blunder, Harvey emphatically stated that the correct Miss Universe winner and first runner-up were listed on the card he was holding. In the Snapchat session for the event, Harvey appeared to claim that the Teleprompter was the culprit.

Tech Insider consulted design experts to determine whether the layout of Harvey’s card could have tripped him up. They did suggest that the fact that the Miss Universe winner was printed on the right side of the card, while the runners-up appeared on the left, could have created some minor confusion for Harvey.

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But there’s yet another wrinkle in this theory: A veteran stage manager told TheWrap that, generally speaking, when a host is reading from cards, there won’t be anything on the teleprompter, and thus no misinformation for Harvey to parrot. Hmm; wheels within wheels…

2. Was it all for publicity?

One conspiracy theory holds that the blunder wasn’t a blunder at all, but rather a calculated attempt to boost buzz for the Miss Universe pageant. After all, Harvey’s run on the game show “Family Feud” has benefited greatly from “Oh My God” moments. But with nothing further to exploit until next year’s event, it’s questionable that organizers would have risked so badly damaging the ceremony’s reputation for the sake of a water-cooler moment.

Also bear in mind, getting cooperation from all of the parties involved would have entailed conspiracy on a global scale. Remember Occam’s razor: Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions is the likeliest. And there are just too many assumptions to make in order for this theory to hold together easily.

Besides, if that was the goal, it backfired on at least one level; while the Miss Universe pageant did generate a lot of online conversation about the goof, its ratings fell off markedly from last year.

3. Is Steve Harvey stretched too thin?

In addition to the aforementioned “Family Feud,” which airs five days a week, Harvey also hosts a syndicated TV talk show, along with a weekday radio show, “The Steve Harvey Morning Show.” Is it possible that Harvey was merely overextended, with too little time built into his packed schedule to prepare for the hosting gig? That would tie loosely into another theory…

4. Did “what happens in Vegas” do in Steve Harvey?

The Miss Universe pageant was held in the Axis at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. As reported by TMZ, Harvey started off the Miss Universe weekend by hitting the roulette table at Caesars, appearing there again hours before the pageant to play some more and enjoy a few drinks. Allowing the roulette wheel to be a distraction before such a high-profile gig would be a pretty big gamble on Harvey’s part, but if there’s a place to gamble big, it’s Vegas.