Sunday night's crowning of Zozibini Tunzi represented not only a historic moment for the Miss Universe pageant but also a landmark year for some of the world's most prestigious pageants.
It made 2019 the first year that the Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA winners are all black women. Many well-known pageants did not allow minorities and women of color in their early history.
Two of the winners, Miss America Nia Imani Franklin and Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, are North Carolina natives.
Kryst, 28, is a lawyer from Charlotte. She said her interest in pageants began when she was 10 years old, watching her mother ride a horse-drawn carriage in a parade when she was named Mrs. North Carolina in 2002.
Franklin was born in Winston-Salem and lived in North Carolina through college, earning degrees from East Carolina University and the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts. Franklin, also crowned Miss New York 2018, was part of this year's ABC11 Raleigh Christmas Parade.
Tunzi, a 26-year-old gender violence activist, said she was forced to abandon her studies for a year because of her family's economic difficulties, but her modeling work allowed her to continue her education.
Garris, 19, won Miss Teen USA after being crowned Miss Connecticut Teen USA. She attends Southern Connecticut State University.