Since the inception of the BIG 4 Ranking way back in January 2011, Hungary has been showing a continuous rise in the overall ranking and such grip was safely maintained until the previous pageant year.  They started at 106th place overall by the end of Pageant Year 2010 , and five years later, they are now in 82nd place, tied with Egypt. Even though Hungary has not produced a single Big 4 crown, yet, it is now ranked higher than Namibia (84th), Gibraltar (85th) and Angola (86th) who all boast of one Big 4 crown each.

Miss Universe 2006
A visibly shocked Adrienn Bende during the Miss Universe 2006 Top 20 announcement.

One would wonder, where does this strength come from?  The answer is “consistency”.

When the iron curtain fell in 1989, Hungary also debuted at Miss World pageant and since then, it has consistently sent a delegate to the annual pageant, except in 1993.  In 1992, the first Hungarian delegate competed at Miss Universe and it never missed a single year since then.  Initially, the winner of Miss Hungary (a national pageant which traces its roots way back in 1929) went to compete in Miss World, but only from the period 1989 to 1995.  From 1996 onwards, the winner of the Miss World Hungary title became the official bet of Hungary at Miss World.  The same was true with the winner of Miss Universe Hungary title, who went on to compete at Miss Universe.  Hungary tried to compete at Miss International in 1991 and 2004, but it only started to consistently field a delegate from 2011 onwards under a new franchise holder.  The group also holds the annual Miss International Hungary search.  Only the Miss Earth franchise has yet to find someone who could organize a pageant. Needless to say, it has consistently appointed a delegate since 2002.

The first string of success for Hungary in Big 4 happened in 2006, when Adrienn Bende made the first cut in Miss Universe, securing a spot in the Top 20.  This was followed with another placement two years later, also at Miss Universe, when Jazmin Dammak surprisingly entered the Top 15 in the 2008 edition held in Vietnam.  Pageant experts casted their doubts on these placements labeling them both as “Trump Cards” and Hungary was once again forgotten. From that point until 2010, Hungary was nowhere to be found in the Top 100 countries in the Big 4 Ranking.

Linda Szunai during the Miss World 2011 Top Model competition.

It was in 2011 at the Miss World pageant in London – 22 years after their first participation – that they finally entered the Top 30 quarterfinals courtesy of Linda Szunai, Hungary’s first placement in the said pageant.  Although this placement was not given proper air time during the live telecast, it was duly recognized by the Miss World Organization via the leader board, where Linda ended up in 26th place out of 113 delegates.  This placement gave Hungary a slight push in the ranking, where it finished the Pageant Year 2011 at 101st position.

Another ray of hope for Hungary came when for the very first time, the lovely Agnes Konkoly went as far as penetrating the Top 10 of Miss Universe 2012, the last Big 4 pageant to be held that year.  Although the other Big 4 girls failed to make the cut in their respective pageant, Agnes’ feat was enough to push Hungary into the 99th position, finally entering the Top 100 for the very first time by the end of 2012.

As if this blessing was not enough, exactly a year later in Tokyo, the beautiful Brigitta Ötvös represented Hungary in the Miss International pageant where she became one of the Top 5 finalists.  Such victory was warmly welcomed in Hungary, and pageant fans both locally and internationally have begun to take Hungary seriously in a field where they used to be unknown of.  Brigitta’s high placement at Miss International had pushed their ranking further up to the 92nd spot.

Miss International Hungary 2013 Brigitta Ötvös

In 2014, pageant fans from around the world become more interested in the selection of Hungary’s Big 4 delegates. With the rise of the Miss International Hungary brand name, the groups behind the other Big 4 franchises had no choice but to do better.  Starting with the Miss World Hungary, the group was able to stage an entertaining pageant night where Edina Kulcsár emerged as the winner.  Miss International Hungary had conceptualized a web-based reality show which ran for almost half a year, with the coronation night as the finale.  The live stream even crashed due to the massive viewers who were not earlier anticipated. Not to be undermined, the ultra-rich owner of the Miss Universe Hungary franchise had to prematurely declare their intention to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Budapest in as early as 2016, which made headlines among pageant blogs.  Also, pageant fans and missosologists alike were debating on who would be appointed as the next Miss Earth Hungary because no formal announcement was made about the selection.  These events in 2014 were just the facade of what is actually going on now in the Hungarian pageant scene.

Edina Kulcsár was declared 1st Runner-up at Miss World 2014

So, 12 months after Brigitta’s historical feat in Tokyo, Edina made history in London when she placed 1st Runner-up in Miss World 2014, won by South Africa’s Rolene Strauss. She was also the recipient of the Missosology’s Choice Award, voted via an online poll.   Interestingly, Edina also auditioned in the 2013 Miss International Hungary pageant together with Brigitta, but she was earlier eliminated in the process.  Her determination and perseverance have paved the way for her to accomplish something bigger, not just for herself but also for Hungary.

Hungary, despite its demographic disadvantage and lack of sash power in the field of pageantry, has managed to outperform itself year after year since 2010.  It cannot be denied that this central European nation is blessed with lots of beautiful women, so it is time to embrace more of them in the future.  Hungary’s consistent participation has been slowly paying off, and they are learning a lot in terms of packaging their girls, as well as promoting their respective portfolio.   Thanks to the healthy competition among the hardworking franchise holders, it won’t be that long till we finally see a Hungarian Big 4 winner, and not to mention, the dream of hosting Miss Universe may become a tangible reality. / Stephen I. Diaz


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