Human Interest Miss India Wins Miss Universe 2021 Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu earned the prestigious crown in Eilat, Israel, on Sunday after beating out the runners-up, Miss Paraguay and Miss South Africa By Joelle Goldstein Joelle Goldstein Instagram Twitter Joelle Goldstein is the Staff Editor of TV for PEOPLE Digital. She has been with the brand for five years, beginning her time as a digital news writer, where she covered everything from entertainment news to crime stories and royal tours. Since then, she has worked as a writer-reporter on the Human Interest team and an associate editor on the TV team. In her current role, Joelle helps oversee all things TV, and enjoys being able to say she has to watch The Kardashians, America's Got Talent, Love Is Blind and Dancing with the Stars for her "work" responsibilities. Prior to joining PEOPLE, Joelle was employed at The Hollywood Reporter, where she was co-nominated at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Magazine Article for feature cover story. She graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor's degree in Television-Radio (and an appearance in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Final Four!) People Editorial Guidelines Published on December 12, 2021 10:14 PM Share Tweet Pin Email There's new royalty in the Miss Universe world! On Sunday, Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu was officially named Miss Universe 2021. Sandhu, 21, beat out 79 other contestants from various countries and territories — including runner-up Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira and second runner-up Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane — to claim the prestigious title. Sandhu was presented the crown by her successor, Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza, before taking her first walk as the new Miss Universe on the stage in Eilat, Israel. A strong advocate for women's empowerment, Sandhu is actor who draws inspiration from Priyanka Chopra. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, dancing, cooking, horse riding and playing chess. Miss Universe 2020 Contestants Made Powerful Political Statements During Pageant MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Prior to the winning moment, the 70th annual Miss Universe competition, which was hosted by Steve Harvey, featured a swimsuit and evening gown segment, as well as an interview portion for each of the contestants. Israeli singer and international pop star Noa Kirel also delivered a performance at the pageant, which had a focus on the climate crisis as part of a green agenda that corresponds with the values of Israel. The competition was a historic one, as it marked the first time that a delegate from the United Arab Emirates has ever competed and the first time in over four decades that Miss Universe Morocco has returned to the pageant. Miss Universe 2021 was held seven months after Meza, 27, earned the 2020 crown this past May. Her win came about five months later than usual because the annual pageant went on a hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement prior to Sunday's competition, Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said he was thrilled to welcome Miss Universe to his country, even with the ongoing COVID concerns. "Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic placed in our path, we knew how to maintain the balance between health and the economy, to bring tourism back to Israel," Razvozov said. "We needed to create tourism anchors that will promote and present Israel to the world as a vaccination nation that invites tourists to visit. The Miss Universe pageant is, without [a] doubt, an important and significant anchor of this plan." Sunday's show also marked the first time that Harvey, 64, returned to the Miss Universe competition since 2019.