Now it can be said — Miss Australia Francesca Hung considered Catriona Gray her “biggest threat” in the competition.
Hung, 24, spoke about Gray during a live interview on the Australian TV program “The Morning Show,” which noted in its recap of the pageant that the new Miss Universe is “half-Aussie.”
“She’s just like any other Aussie girl,” Hung said of Gray, when asked how she would describe the beauty queen off-camera.
“She grew up in Australia, so she has the same sort of values and ideals. She was born for this role. She is a well brought-up pageant girl, so she is going to be an amazing spokesperson for Miss Universe.”
Gray, 24, was born in the coastal city of Cairns in Far North Queensland in Australia. Her father, Ian Gray, is reportedly a Scottish-born Australian, while her Filipino mother, Normita Magnayon, hails from Albay.
Gray’s roots have become the subject of headlines in Australia following her Miss Universe win. Cairns is said to be planning a mayoral reception for Gray, should she visit there during her reign. Brisbane-based tabloid The Courier-Mail, meanwhile, earned the ire of some Filipino pageant fans online, after it ran a front-page story on Gray’s victory, but with “Philippines” crossed with a red mark.
Australia representative Hung, who finished in the top 20 of the pageant, said in her TV interview that the experience is “still all soaking in.”
Her time in Miss Universe was wrought with controversy, particularly over her involvement in a viral video showing fellow candidate Sarah Rose Summers mocking non-English speaking participants.
Asked for her reaction to becoming the target of criticisms at the time, Hung said: “I actually never experienced anything like that before, all of that sort of online abuse and attack. I had my first panic attack. It’s hard when you’re here as well; you don’t have your family around you. It can be really difficult. And you’re in this really strange environment.
“I deleted my Instagram at one point, and I just didn’t look at anything, and then after a while, I realized I can’t change other people’s perspective of me, as long as I know my intentions are pure. People around me know me. They know that I would never say anything like that. I just had to be OK with that, and let other people say what they want to say.”