An aspiring actor from the Dominican Republic has made history by becoming the first contestant from his country to win a major male beauty pageant. Manuel Franco, 21, beat 34 other contestants to the Mister International 2022 crown at a ceremony held in Quezon City, Philippines, on Sunday night.
India's Lukanand Kshetrimayum placed second, while Orangel Dirinot from Venezuela won third place. Myron Jude Ordillano, from the host country Philippines, placed fifth.
"On this day, I’m trying to make history for my country. Imagine the first male grand slam winner in beauty pageants for Dominican Republic… Would be crazy😅," Franco posted hours before the finals.
Soon after he was crowned, he added: "Thanks Everyone for the support. Thanks Philippines for the experience, was grateful and awesome. Thanks to Dominican Republic."
Hailing from Espaillat Province in the north, Franco is a business student who juggles his studies with TV and stage work, as well as his modelling career. He dreams of becoming a successful actor and director.
During the past week, contestants have been put through their paces, taking part in various preliminary competitions, including a costume round, as well as interviews. They've also had the opportunity to tour the sights and sounds of host Quezon City.
The annual competition, one of two major global contests along with Mister World, has been held since 2006. The event was cancelled for three years, from 2019 to 2021, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, Trinh Bao from Vietnam, who won the title in 2018, was the longest title holder.
Lebanon has won the most Mister International titles, winning three times in 2006, 2012 and 2016. Wissam Hanna, the winner of the first pageant in 2006, is a well-known actor and presenter living in Dubai.
Bangkok will host the next Mister International pageant in October next year.