With just days to go until 2016, Steve Harvey swooped in and stole the most embarrassing TV moment of 2015. (Photo: Splash News)
As far as mistakes go, Steve Harvey made a biggie.
By now you know that the well-liked comedian/talk show personality/game show host royally botched his one job as emcee of the Miss Universe pageant by incorrectly naming Miss Colombia the winner when the title actually went to Miss Philippines. Thanks to social media, he was immediately the laughingstock of the Internet. (As proof, even Justin Bieber made fun of him.) However, in an era of Ashley Madison scandals, this isn’t a career-ruining situation if he gets on top of it quickly.
Miss Colombia’s tiara was unceremoniously removed and given to Miss Philippines. (YouTube)
“This is a slow news week with the holiday, so unless something major happens, all we’re going to be doing is talking about this,” David E. Johnson, who is the CEO of the PR and branding agency Strategic Vision PR Group, tells Yahoo Celebrity. “What he needs to do is address this now. He needs to do an interview with someone and he needs to poke fun at himself for his mistake."
So far Harvey’s apology strategy has been lacking. His on-air explanation during the telecast was confusing. "Let me just take control of this,” he said. “This is exactly what’s on the card. I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake.” Huh?
Then he took to Miss Universe’s SnapChat and blamed the teleprompter for saying Miss Colombia won.
Harvey’s apology tour for what was easily the worst TV moment of 2015 continued on Twitter, but he screwed that up too — with typos. He misspelled the names of both countries in a tweet, which he later deleted:
"He didn’t help himself there with the misspellings,” laughs Johnson, who says Harvey needs to act swiftly to clear up this mess. “If he doesn’t do something within the next 24 to 48 hours, then this story is going to linger and he’s going to be the non-stop punchline of comedians. So he needs to get ahead of this, do something, and be proactive. Otherwise, every time he is mentioned, that mistake is going to be brought up.”
While Harvey looks bad, the Miss Universe Organization has only been benefiting from this mess.
“I don’t think it really does any harm for them,” says Johnson. “It was great PR for the show. Now more people know who Miss Universe is. They’re checking out clips, they’re looking at the website. It’s a win for them.”
Plus, it’s a good way for the pageant to distance themselves from former co-owner Donald Trump. After all, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination had a nasty breakup with the organization over the summer and he ended up selling it.
“Don’t forget that Miss Universe got some flak because of Donald Trump, so this might be a good move to get people talking about this and not old Trump,” says Johnson.
Not that Trump hasn’t interjected himself into the Harvey fiasco:
While Harvey has botched every step of his apology, the two women at the center of this mess — the new Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach, and Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez — have been class acts.
“Everything happens for a reason,” is what Gutierrez had to say about the matter while winner Wurtzbach called herself “confused” by the whole situation — and worried she too would have to return her crown.
“I had to ask my [manager] many times like, ‘Did I really win? Am I really Miss Universe? Are you going to take the crown from me now?'” Wurtzbach said. “And they [said], 'No, no, you’re really the winner.’”
The true loser in all this has been Harvey, but hopefully not for long.
“What he’s got going for him is that people like him,” says Johnson. “If he allows this thing to continue to crystalize and continue to feed on itself, then, yeah, it could hurt his image. That’s why if I were him, I’d get out ahead of this, poke fun at himself, and have people laugh with him rather than at him.
We hope he’s listening.