October 19, 2006

Universe believes Americans ugly, Puerto Ricans hot

As part of one of my several tangentially related projects, I'm crunching some numbers on the Miss Universe pageant, particularly the winners. I'll have more interesting things to say after awhile, but here are a few interesting numbers to consider. First, I came up with a crude index of a country's hotness, such that H = 10,000 times (number of Miss Universe wins) divided by (number of MU pageants entered, times current population in millions). The initial 10,000 is to make the numbers more readable, and the population in the denominator doesn't punish tiny countries or reward large ones based on sheer size. It ignores placing runner-up, and could give slightly inaccurate numbers if the country underwent a recent population explosion (giving a lower score) or population bottleneck (giving a higher score). But it's good enough for government work, though I'll make more precise adjustments later. Unless someone wants to pay me -- then I'll treat it as if it were my doctoral thesis topic.

The US has won 7 of 55 contests it's entered, and has a current pop of 300 million, yielding an H = 4. Puerto Rico has won 5 of the 52 contests it's entered, and has a current pop of 3.9 million, yielding an H = 247 -- hot indeed! Trinidad and Tobago score H = 427 -- but they've only entered 36 contests, so we'll have to wait and see how they do once they pass the 50 contests mark. Venezuela scores H = 28, and they've entered 53 times. So it's definitely no fluke to report that Puerto Ricans and Venezuelans are hotter than Americans. For Nordic-lovers, Sweden scores H = 61, but 1 of their 3 wins were in the early days (1955) when the exotic babe nations weren't pummeling the paler nations (kind of like white baseball before Jackie Robinson). Starting with their win in 1966, their H would only move down to 54, though -- on the same order of magnitude as Venezuela, but still hotter.

Also on the Jackie Robinson note, 4 of the US' 7 wins came in the first 16 years of the pagenat ('54, '56, '60, '67) -- so most of the US' wins reflect an early impressive showing and subsequent fading away (also winning in '80, '95, and '97). Puerto Rico's 5 wins are pretty evenly spaced over the 4 most recent decades ('70, '85, '93, '01, '06), so there's no way to construe their H as reflecting glory days gone by. Anyway, lots more to say, but something to think about.


  1. How does Colombia do? Beauty contests are definitely popular in that part of the world.

  2. Colombia is also H = 4, like the US. They've only won once. My refined estimate will also factor in semi-finalists. If we only looked at semi-finalists, but using the same calculation otherwise, the US would have H = 31, and Colombia H = 121.

  3. Ha, is it just that I'm not giving much attention to your beloved Nordic ladies? Don't worry -- post coming up on Monday about why Swedes are hotter than one would expect.


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