Miss Universe Australia has taken to the stage for the national costume portion of the global pageant amid ongoing controversy over her property developer parents owing tens of millions of dollars linked to failed businesses.
Moraya Wilson, 21, stepped out in a pastel-hued gown by Perth designer Emma Daley titled Wild Beauty, inspired by Australia’s native wildflowers.
The gown was a subdued choice compared with some of the others being shown off in El Salvador on the weekend.
Her entry into the pageant has sparked controversy back home linked to her parents’ business dealings. Her father, Anton Wilson, ran multiple companies which collapsed owing creditors more than $45million.
Anton was banned by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) from managing corporations until 2027 and his ex-wife Melinda Wilson disqualified from managing corporations for five years, with debts of $39million.
Ms Wilson herself was alleged to be a director of 10 companies which owed thousands of dollars in tax as of September 2 – a day after winning the Australian crown in Melbourne, though she has denied any knowledge of, or involvement in, the businesses.
Miss Universe Australia Moraya Wilson stepped onto the stage at the international pageant wearing a native wildflower inspired gown by Perth designer 29-year-old Emma Daley
Moraya (centre) poses for photos alongside other Miss Universe contestants ahead of the pageant in El Salvador which has a reported $250,000 in prizemoney
The controversy has even spread to Victoria’s Parliament with shadow transport minister and former opposition leader Matthew Guy calling on ASIC to reopen investigations into her parents.
During his statement to the state’s parliament, Mr Guy said that a number of his constituents had contacted his office concerned about the ‘actions of Mr and Ms Wilson’.
‘I do note that there is a lot of money in this issue that is owed and has been at play, and many Victorians have been financially hurt and seek rightful redress,’ Mr Guy said.
‘It is not right that a number of companies linked to these individuals continue to operate while tens of millions of dollars in unpaid debts remains outstanding,’ Mr Guy said.
Victoria’s shadow transport minister, Matthew Guy (pictured), called on the state’s assistant treasure to contact his federal counterpart to promptly investigate the business dealings of Anton and Mellissa
Hundreds have called for Miss Universe Australia, Moraya Wilson (pictured), to step down from her role after she was revealed to be the daughter of bankrupt property developers Anton and Melinda Wilson
The MP alleged that ASIC had previously investigated the couple but the inquiries had been ‘bizarrely’ concluded ‘with no serious attempt to seek financial redress or assist those who are seeking to obtain justice’.
‘How can it be that our federal regulatory authorities cannot commence or reopen investigations into people who owe so much money to so many?’ Mr Guy asked.
Mr Guy requested the state assistant treasurer to contact his federal counterpart, Stephen Jones, to ‘reopen an investigation’ into Mr and Ms Wilson.
He also called on Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan, to put her support behind an investigation promptly for the sake of ‘Victorians involved who have been financially hurt’.
Moraya lives in a two-bed apartment in upmarket Armadale in inner-city Melbourne’ with her former AFL rookie boyfriend Sam Alabakis (pictured)
In her Miss Universe biography, Moraya said she planned to launch a fashion business as part of her business marketing degree at RMIT University
Daily Mail Australia has approached Moraya Wilson for comment.
For now, at least, Ms Wilson parents’ troubles will take a back seat as she focuses on her performance at the Miss Universe pageant.
The winner will receive a reported $250,000 in prizemoney along with a six figure salary and a rent-free New York apartment for one year.
This year’s event is the first Miss Universe – considered one of the ‘big four’ global beauty pageants along with Miss World, Miss International and Miss Earth – to ever allow married women and mothers to take part.
Other contestants stepped out in extravagant, sometimes eccentric, bejewelled ensembles for the costume show – with everything from an Oxford English Dictionary to tulips, trains and even airplanes, on display.
An array of animals such as butterflies, goats and birds graced the stage in an explosion of colour – and one entry even dressed as a cobbled street.
The final of the 72nd Miss Universe pageant will take place on Saturday, with the person coming out on top crowned by last year’s winner, USA’s R’Bonney Nola Gabriel.
After updating its eligibility rules last year, married women and mothers are allowed to compete in Miss Universe for the very first time – held at José Adolfo Pineda Arena, San Salvador.
Miss El Salvador Isabella Garcia-Manzo wears a dress which appears to look like fire or a volcanic eruption
Miss Pakistan Erica Robin at the National Costume Show at Jose Adolfo Pineda Arena, San Salvador
For the last 70 years, the pageant was only available to women who had never been married or had children, but now, both mothers and married women can enter the pageant.
‘We all believe that women should have agency over their lives and that a human’s personal decisions should not be a barrier to their success,’ an internal memo obtained by The National said.
Josh Yugen, the national director of Miss Universe told The National: ‘The Miss Universe Organization is always the greatest and most innovative platform of its kind and now it will be more inclusive and welcoming to mothers and married women.
‘For me, this is aligned with what I have been fighting for — breaking stereotypes and unlearning the stigma that the old society has forced on us from many many decades ago.’
Likely in celebration of the new ruling, Miss Canada Madison Kvaltin was seen sporting a gigantic maple leaf costume with the words ‘Inclusivity makes dreams come true’ during the show.
Possibly most peculiar of all was Miss Great Britain Jessica Page’s choice of outfit, as she stepped out as an Oxford Dictionary
Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kolle stepped out for the competition as a blooming flower
Miss Canada Madison Kvaltin was seen sporting a gigantic maple leaf costume with the words ‘Inclusivity makes dreams come true’ during the show
Miss Angola Ana Barbara Coimbra takes part in the National Costume Show during the 72nd Miss Universe pageant
Miss Curacao Kim Rossen went as the Olympic torch for her costume, while Miss Ecuador Delary Stoffers appeared to be a train
Andrea Meza, 27, who represented Mexico and was crowned Miss Universe in 2020, noted the new rule was long overdue.
‘I honestly love that this is happening,’ she said in an interview with Insider. ‘Just like society changes and women are now occupying leadership positions where in the past only men could.
‘It was about time pageants changed and opened up to women with families.’
This year’s costume show saw a wide variety of outfits donned by the participants, including a train, multiple dragons and what appeared to be a money chandelier.
Possibly most peculiar of all was Miss Great Britain Jessica Page’s choice of outfit, as she stepped out as an Oxford Dictionary.
Miss Cameroon Issie Princess’s costumes honours women who have made an impact on the women’s empowerment movement in Cameroon.
Meanwhile Helena Bleicher, Miss Germany, opted to go as Rapunzel – wearing a long plaited wig and a pink and purple co-ord, while carrying a storybook.
Miss Trinidad and Tobago Faith Gillezeau stunned in a red feathered bird outfit compete with a diamond encrusted bird head
Miss Cameroon Issie Princess’s costumes honours women who have made an impact on the women’s empowerment movement in Cameroon
Even an airplane was represented on the catwalk, as Miss Philippines Michelle Dee took to the stage in a plane dress
Miss Curacao Kim Rossen went as the Olympic torch for her costume, while Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kolle stepped out as a blooming flower.
The beginning of the competition comes just days after it was announced the company behind the Miss Universe pageant sensationally filed for bankruptcy.
Anne Jakrajutatip acquired the event for $20 million in 2022 from IMG Media, adding it to the portfolio of JKN Global Group. Between 1996 and 2015, the Miss Universe Pageant was part of Donald Trump‘s business empire.
The bankruptcy comes after the company missed out on fulfilling a $12 million loan repayment. Despite the setback, JKN was bullish and maintained that the event would go ahead as planned.
Back in 2015, Trump was forced into selling the pageant after TV companies refused to deal with the then-presidential candidate over his racist remarks while on the campaign trail.
Around this time, one former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, said that Trump called her Miss Piggy after she gained weight after winning the contest in 1996.