Miss Universe 2019: Steve Harvey Offends Viewers With Cartel Jokes, Defends Against Backlash

No one will let Steve Harvey live down that time he announced the wrong winner for Miss Universe in 2015, and in the aftermath, he went on an apology tour. The moment left viewers confused, but it left the contestants and the true winner stunned. After that, what’s the likelihood of Harvey having another cringey moment while hosting the show? For some, very likely.

Admittedly, what happened in 2015 was a mistake and he misread the card that listed Miss Colombia as the first runner up and Miss Philippines as the winner. But during the Dec. 8 broadcast of the Miss Universe 2019 pageant, Harvey managed to rub fans the wrong way and they aired their grievances on social media.

Steve Harvey and Miss Colombia, Gabriela Tafur
Steve Harvey and Miss Colombia, Gabriela Tafur, Miss Universe Pageant | Paras Griffin/Getty Images

What did Steve Harvey say to offend Miss Universe viewers?

This time, the no-no involved this year’s Miss Colombia. What did Harvey say that didn’t go over well? He made some quips about the cartel.

Harvey called Miss Colombia, Gabriela Tafur, forward to answer a question and motioned to the card that her name—Miss Colombia—was the one correctly printed on his cue cards. When she stepped up, she laughed and jokingly said, “Are you sure you read correctly? Should I go back? Tell me what to do,” pointing to the card and referencing the 2015 gaffe.

After they both shared a chuckle about Harvey’s “struggles” with the correct name, Miss Colombia told him not to worry because he’s forgiven. But Harvey then said, “You’ve forgiven me but the cartel is not… They’re not handling it the same way.” Yikes.

Fans did not take kindly to the cartel jokes

Almost immediately after the exchange, Twitter users slammed Harvey for mentioning the cartel while speaking to Miss Colombia. They called him out, saying he was stereotyping the country and making disrespectful remarks. Others were simply in shock he said something like that in the first place.

One user wrote, “That steve harvey comment about colombia and the CARTEL was disrespectful! He should apologize! That’s not what we are, our artists, our landscapes, our athletes can speak LOUDER.”

Another shared, “@IAmSteveHarvey hey Steve as a Colombian I don’t appreciate the comment about the cartel that is a big reason to apologise to all colombians we are not only about cartels and drugs shame on you.”

Multiple tweets and Instagram users are calling for Harvey’s firing from his Miss Universe hosting duties due to his comments about Colombia and one about Mexico where he said, “That’ll get you killed.” The audience was paying attention to his words and gestures, and at one point, someone captured him rolling his eyes about the climate change question directed toward Ms. South Africa. Fans say that Harvey had a few “WTF” moments during the show.

How Harvey addressed the cartel comments

During his radio show on Monday morning, Harvey took some time to address the backlash surrounding his Colombian cartel jokes. Harvey unequivocally stated that back when his 2015 blunder happened and trended worldwide, he received numerous death threats “from that group of people.” He said it’s the reason he has 24-hour security at his home, and things had gotten so out of hand that people were throwing rocks with threats attached to them over his fence.

He stated the online comments about his jokes from last night’s pageant don’t bother him, because although he was joking, what he said was rooted in truth.