At the pageant, Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, 24, was asked what message she would send to global terrorists.
As one of the top five finalists in the pageant, Sanchez told the judges: “As Miss USA I can always spread a message of hope and love and peace.”
Her answer sparked debate and criticism across Twitter, with social media users posting what they really thought of her reply.
Taylor Kinzler @Taylor_KinzlerPS: Miss USA answered her onstage question in true Miss Congeniality form and said she wanted world peace. My life is complete
miss USA said she would try to spread love and hope to terrorists. yes, if only we would’ve tried offering love and peace to ISIS
Hope, love, and peace will be your message to global terrorists? GOOD ONE MISS USA.
Sanchez was the first runner-up in the competition to Colombia’s Paulina Vega, who took the crown this year at the official ceremony in Miami.
The 63rd edition of the Miss Universe pageant was held at Florida International University before a full house of enthusiastic fans.
The contest featured the traditional parade of eye-catching swimsuits and national costumes and performances from teen idol Nick Jonas and Dominican-born American singer Prince Royce.
Ten judges were tasked to select this year’s winner, including Cuban-American music mogul Emilio Estefan, Cuban soap opera star William Levy and Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao.
The Miss Universe contest started out in 1952 as a local “bathing beauty” competition organised by a swimwear company in Long Beach, California.
Today, the competition is more than a beauty pageant and contestants “compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals and … seek to improve the lives of others,” according to the Miss Universe website.