Miss World pageants dark scandals – £250k cocaine haul to nudes leak and murder

Eve Gilles became the first woman with short hair to win Miss France in 103 years.

The 20-year-old, from Nord-Pas-de-Calais, strut her stuff in front of 7.5million viewers. She impressed judges with her “androgynous look” and looked gorgeous as the crown was placed on top of her pixie cut.

But sadly, she couldn’t enjoy the achievement for very long. Keyboard warriors took to social media in their droves to disagree with the decision – with some even accusing pageant organisers of becoming “too woke”.

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On X, formerly known as Twitter, one critic wrote: "Miss France is no longer a beauty contest but a woke contest which is based on inclusiveness.” Another said: “She doesn’t look anything like a Miss France.” And a third added: “Did we just have a woke Miss France or what?”

Politicians and public figures have since stepped in to defend Eve, who maintains her victory is a win for “diversity”. And as the drama dies down, she will be looking forward to competing at Miss World or Miss Universe.

It’s far from the only scandal to rock the pageant over the decades. In fact, it makes Eve’s experience look like a storm in a teacup when you look back at all the controversy that's gone on.

Here we take a look back at the wildest moments from contests gone by – from nudes leaks, to "inappropriate acts" and devastating crime…

Wild affairs

American Marjorie Wallace won the 1973 contest at 19, but was the first winner to be fired, 104 days later for “failing to fulfil the basic requirements of the job".

Miss World officials stripped her of the title after she was spotted having an affair while engaged to racing driver Peter Revson – who was tragically killed in a crash two weeks later.

The then 19-year-old Marjorie was caught with Welsh singing sensation Tom Jones in 1976 – and they were pictured kissing on a beach in Barbados.

Sir Tom ended their relationship when he realised his wife Linda would find out – who he later confirmed was understandably furious and heartbroken.

Marjorie, who was also known for dating football lothario George Best, took an overdose of sleeping pills. Thankfully, she survived the incident.

Nudity scandal

Germany’s Gabriella Brum, 18, who was Miss World in 1980, resigned the following day saying that her boyfriend disapproved.

She also didn't want to go on the year-long promotional tour after winning the crown, so returned to her 52-year-old partner – Wolfgang Benno Bellenbaum. Reports claim she "wanted to be with Benno instead of flying through the world under a strict contract for a year".

It later emerged that she had posed for raunchy photos. Photographer Wolfgang Heilemann told Der Spiegel in 2008 that he'd taken saucy shots of Gabriella naked in bed.

He claimed the shoot included shots of her having a pillow fight with her boyfriend, which were apparently set to be used in a Miss World cover story. Gabriella also went on to model for Playboy.

The pageant star married Benno in 1981 – but they soon separated. Her ex husband tragically shot himself aged 55 and was found with a farewell letter in his apartment in Los Angeles.

Drugs bust

Miss Bermuda 1982 winner Heather Ross was caught attempting to smuggle $320,000 (£250,000) worth of cocaine into London from Amsterdam. The court was told she had hidden the drugs in the false bottom of a suitcase.

Just a week after the Miss World pageant, she was arrested at Heathrow Airport. After appearing at Reading Crown Court, she was later sentenced to three years in jail.

'Inappropriate acts'

Last year, a Miss World competitor was stripped of her crown after being accused of “inappropriate acts”.

Ruan Yue was gearing up to represent her country in the famous pageant after winning Miss China 2022. Then two weeks before she was set to strut her stuff on the catwalk, she was axed from the competition with little explanation.

People thought the drama had ended when she was replaced by an entrant called Qin Zewen. But the 25-year-old faced scrutiny when she was accused of lying about her university qualifications.

Miss World investigated the matter – with a spokesperson commenting: “We are concerned with the complaints regarding the Miss China candidate that we have received. We will look into the matter and if the rules have been breached, appropriate actions will be taken.”

Bikini row

Last year, Miss World brought back its divisive bikini round for the first time since 2014. There was a Top Model show where contestants could enter a beachwear competition.

Some were pleased that swimwear featured at Miss World – and Miss England – again. This included Miss England finalist Corel-Jo Antwhistle, from Newscastle.

The Geordie lass told Daily Star: "I think it's going to be so empowering to all the young women taking part, and also brilliant to empower all women across the UK.

“A lot of women of all ages, are influenced by social media, unfortunately, social media is very fake, and comparing and seeing bodies edited can have a serious effect on mental health when you're viewing this daily, this new round can show real bodies! And real self-love for them.”

But the decision surprised some as the swimwear catwalk show was axed seven years ago as judges put their focus on “brains and personality” rather than “physical beauty”.

Around 50 years ago, feminists protested at the Royal Albert Hall to get the raunchy runway removed. Pictures that date back to the 1970s show campaigners with placards and throwing flour bombs on stage.

Family feud

There have been five British Miss Worlds including Rosemarie Frankland, Ann Sidney, Lesley Langley and Sarah-Jane Hutt.

But Welsh winner Helen Morgan became the first to resign after it was revealed that she was the unmarried mum of an 18-month-old son – even though this didn’t technically break the competition’s rules.

Murder and mayhem

Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, was set to represent Honduras at the 2014 contest but was murdered – along with her sister – by her sister’s boyfriend, just days beforehand.

Plutarco Ruiz was handed a 45-year jail sentence in September 2017 following the slaying of Miss Honduras and her sibling Sofia. But he didn't end up serving his full sentence.

That's because Ruiz, 40, was killed at El Pozo back in February – where he was serving his time. Reports claim he was shot dead by two inmates in the maximum-security prison in Ilama, Honduras.

This isn't the only heartbreaking crime to rock the pageant either. The 1998 winner, Israel’s Linor Abargil, was raped at knifepoint and stabbed just before competing by a travel agent who was later convicted.

And a 1966 contestant, South Africa’s Johanna Carter, was the victim of an attempted kidnapping by students who hoped to ransom her for charity.

Deadly riots

The glitz and glamour that come with the Miss World contest turned into death and destruction one year as 100 people were killed in riots in Nigeria.

Following the victory of Agbani Darego, who represented the country in 2001, Nigeria was set to host the world famous contest but not everyone was happy about having the pageant in the capital city Abuja.

Youths reportedly started the riots in the city of Kaduna that saw 500 people injured and 100 people killed on November 22 in 2002.

On November 23, Miss World organisers made the decision to move the show to London to be held on December 7 following the unrest in the African country.


The 1976 competition was boycotted by several nations over Apartheid policies in South Africa as there were separate black and white contestants.

The 2002 Miss World had to be re-located to the UK from Nigeria after religious riots, while it was moved to Bali form Jakarta, Indonesia in 2013 after Islamic protests, with a sarong replacing swimwear.

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