Sheynnis Palacios is making historic moves for her country, Nicaragua.
Sheynnis Alondra Palacios Cornejo is a Nicaraguan model and beauty pageant titleholder.
Born on May 30 2000, she was crowned Miss Nicaragua in 2023.
Palacios was born in Diriamba, Nicaragua. She went to school at La Salle Managua Pedagogical Institute in Managua, where she won the Miss Lasallista beauty pageant and began her interest in pageantry.
After that, Palacios enrolled in the Central American University in Managua, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication in 2022. While she was a university student, Palacios played on her school’s varsity volleyball team.
When she was younger, Sheynnis suffered from anxiety attacks. Her struggles with her own mental health later inspired her to adopt mental health awareness as her pageant platform.
Before her life in pageants, Palacios worked as a model, television presenter, and journalist in Nicaragua. She presented a show called Entiende tu mente, which discussed topics related to mental health–something that’s clearly very important to her.
Palacios officially entered the pageantry industry in 2016 after being crowned Miss Teen Nicaragua 2016. She went on to represent her country at the Teen Miss Universe 2017 pageant, where she placed in the Top 10.
She went on to take a break from pageantry, but Sheynnis returned to compete in Miss World Nicaragua 2020. After winning, Palacios represented Nicaragua at Miss World 2021.
Fast forward to 2023, Palacios was announced as one of the contestants for Miss Nicaragua 2023. The pageant was held in August 2023, where Palacios went on to win the title, earning the right to represent her country at Miss Universe 2023.
Miss Universe 2023 was held on November 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador.
On the night of finals, Palacios advanced into the Top 20, becoming just the fifth Nicaraguan representative to reach the semifinals in the history of the pageant.
Palacios was announced as the pageant’s winner following the final question portion of the pageant. She took home the big crown, beating out the first runner-up, Anntonia Porsild of Thailand.
Upon her victory, Sheynnis became the first Nicaraguan to be crowned Miss Universe. She also became the first Nicaraguan to win any of the Big Four international beauty pageants, making history.
This also makes Palacios the first Central American to win the pageant outright. She follows in the footsteps of Justine Pasek of Panama, who became Miss Universe 2002 following the resignation of original winner Oxana Fedorova.
“Nicaragua, I feel you in my heartbeat, the sound of your marimba runs through my veins,” she wrote on Instagram before to the competition. “I will show what Nicaraguans are made of: valor, courage and determination.”
Last year’s winner, Miss Universe and Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel, crowned Palacios. Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild was named runner-up, while Miss Australia Moraya Wilson placed third.
Palacios seemed to secure her big win when she confidently answered the question of which woman’s shoes would she like to spend a year in by saying Mary Wollstonecraft. The 18th-century English writer and philosopher was an advocate of women’s rights and is considered one of the forerunners of feminism.
Sheynnis also answered other questions with class, keeping her fellow women at the forefront of her mind. During another portion of the competition, she said she wants to work to close the salary gap between the genders so that women can work in any area.
There were multiple women who made history at this year’s Miss Universe pageant.
There were two transgender women, the representatives of Portugal and the Netherlands, in this edition of the beauty contest.
Among other novelties were two married contestants with children, who took advantage of the modifications to the rules that allow married, pregnant, divorced or with children people to participate.
Miss Colombia Camila Avella, a married mother, made the top five.
After she won the Miss Colombia title, she posted portraits of herself in her crown and sash. Alongside her, was her young daughter, Amelia, and her husband Nassif Kamle, who dressed up in a tuxedo for the occassion.
Nepal was represented by plus-size model Jane Dipika Garrett. Due to what a lot of people are used to from Miss Universe, her presence fueled the controversy surrounding Miss Universe’s fresh look amid new ownership.
“I love my curves!” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself from the swimsuit competition. “My body is my temple and I will take care of it as holy ground.”
For the first time in the pageant’s history, the competition included a Miss Pakistan. Erica Robin represented her country, wearing a pale-pink, floor-length caftan for the swimsuit competition.
“When I was young, I always watched Miss Universe and I used to believe that a woman from Pakistan couldn’t join the greatest Olympics of its kind,” she wrote on Instagram after winning the Miss Pakistan title and celebrated “being able to use my platform for good change and transformation.”
A lot of fans are still adjusting to the changes in Miss Universe amid new ownership. A Thai business tycoon and transgender activist, Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib, purchased the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million in October 2022.
Chakrajutathib, who controls JKN Global Group Public Co. Ltd., is a celebrity in Thailand who is outspoken about being a transgender woman. She helped establish a nonprofit group, Life Inspired For Transsexual Foundation, to promote trans rights.
JKN announced last year that it acquired the rights to the Miss Universe pageant from IMG Worldwide LLC, a sports, talent and events marketing company which has held the Miss Universe Organization since 2015. Former U.S. President Donald Trump was part owner of the pageant rights from 1996 until IMG’s purchase.
In a statement about the purchase, Chakrapong described the move as “a strong, strategic addition to our portfolio.” JKN, which is involved in content distribution, beverages, food supplements, beauty and consumer products, said the Miss Universe name will be used to promote its consumer products.
A profile of Chakrapong in the Bangkok Post newspaper in 2022 said she studied at an all-male school in her youth. While there, she was harassed for identifying as female.
After becoming financially successful, Chakrapong spent 40 million baht ($1 million) on sex reassignment surgery and other procedures. Now, she’s using her platform to make sure Miss Universe has more diverse representation.
Congratulations to Sheynnis Palacios on becoming the first woman from Nicaragua to become Miss Universe!