Most pageant contestants have had to resort to using pageant sponsors at some point to finance their pageant careers. The Miss Venezuela contestants, however, have had to take pageant sponsorships to the next level due to the outrageous cost of competing.
About the financial requirement of succeeding at Miss Venezuela
While all national competition costs can accumulate over time, the price of success at Miss Venezuela Universe is higher than most other pageants. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project just released an in-depth look at the real costs of the Miss Venezuela pageant. By its estimate, including all resources, training and wardrobe needed for competition, a contestant will have to spend approximately $32,000 (USD) to train enough to make it into the Top 20 contestants. (Read: 8 Crazy Pageant Stories You Won’t Believe Are True)
The estimate report includes hair extensions, dresses worth thousands of dollars, designer brand name outfits for each day, physical training and more. It even includes the cost of plastic surgery for some, which can cost almost $15,000. Coaches and trainers deem all of this necessary for success in the Venezuelan pageant. Not only is this an excessive amount by anyone’s standards, the country has been riddled with economic strife over the past couple of years. The average monthly salary for a person in Venezuela is just under $100 per month.
About the expectations of a Miss Venezuela hopeful
Most contestants view the ornate cost to compete as an investment in their future as they pursue modeling opportunities. While the pageant is expensive, taking part in it ultimately allows participants to charge up to 10 times as much for modeling jobs as non-competitors. With that kind of markup, the contestants may be able to quickly recover their investment in the pageant.
Miss Venezuela hopefuls are transformed into a pseudo-celebrity during their journey towards the crown, almost overnight. The expectation of these girls is to look flawless at all times leading up to and during the pageant. This journey is where most of the cost lies. (Read: 8 Pageant Preparations Mistakes You Are Probably Making)
Between the price of success and the pressure of perfection, many hopefuls will drop out of the running early on. Famous pageant coach Esteban Velásquez said, “When you start telling a girl about what shoes and clothes she needs to wear, that is when [they] begin to withdraw.” About half of the girls seeking Velásquez’s coaching dropped out last year upon hearing the costs of the competition.
About how the pageant is financed
Some contestants will rely on community fundraising efforts to meet the financial demands of competition. A lot of the contestants will rely on sponsors, or “saints,” as they are commonly referred to, to finance their journey toward the crown. These saints are the wealthy businessmen and government officials who are familiar with the price of success in the Venezuelan pageant scene. (Read: Pageant Sponsorship Do’s and Don’ts)
These sponsors meet contestants at pageant-sponsored dinner events. During these events, the sponsors will talk to the ladies vying for the title and potentially offer a sponsorship to a contestant at the end of the night. While most of these sponsorships are “above board” and appropriate, there are some “dark sponsorships” available. These dark sponsorships require sexual favors or company in exchange for a sponsorship. (Read: Former Miss America Launches Fund to Support Survivors of Sexual Harassment)
While these sponsorships are known to exist, very few who participate in them will make that information public knowledge. Miss Bolivar 2015, Albany Goncalves said, “If they are offered something, they stay quiet. No one is out there saying ‘this person is paying and in return I’m their companion.’ That is something that people keep to themselves.”
Women who are offered these arrangements and declines are not well-received. One contestant even recalls having her life threatened for declining an arrangement. Patricia Velásquez, a former Miss Venezuela, confirmed the existence of these deals in her autobiography “No Heels, No Reservations.” (Read: Top 10 Ways to Stay Safe as a Titleholder)
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