Breaking Down Miss Lebanon 2017: A Mathematical Approach

Blame the engineer in me, but while the rest of Lebanon tuned in zealously to Miss Lebanon last Sunday on LBCI – or equally, on Twitter – I waited a few days to catch it on YouTube. Armed with control over the play, pause, and replay buttons, and wielding a pen and notepad, I thus watched one of the country’s most highly anticipated entertainment stunts of the year.

Ordinarily, we don’t apply a scientific lens to beauty pageants. Sure, there are some numbers involved, notably the height and weight of each participant. But I was interested in a completely different set of numerical figures, and that was the judges’ scores.

What I discovered would intrigue the most discerning of audiences.


Miss Lebanon 2017 contestants in elegant wear (photo source: APF)


Let’s start with the basics: name, height and weight (in both metric and English units), and order of appearance in the pageant lineup, which as a variable is more instrumental than first meets the eye.


Spot
Surname
First name
Height (cm)
Height (in)
Weight (kg)
Weight (lbs)
1
Gedeon
Amani
172
67.7
58
127.6
2
Kahwagi
Carole
171
67.3
53
116.6
3
El Jurdi
Daria
183
72.0
64.5
141.9
4
Boustany
Elsa
170
66.9
55
121.0
5
Mouawad
Eva
169
66.5
47
103.4
6
Sader
Jana
177
69.7
57
125.4
7
Munayer
Lucie
167
65.7
53
116.6
8
Hayek
Mariam
178
70.1
62
136.4
9
Nicolas
Marita
165
65.0
52.5
115.5
10
Barrak
Mireille
176
69.3
56
123.2
11
Matar
Niveen
172
67.7
57
125.4
12
Helou
Perla
175
68.9
58
127.6
13
Khoury
Reem
166
65.4
50.5
111.1
14
Najem
Sabine
178
70.1
62
136.4
15
Mohsen
Yousra
175
68.9
57
125.4



The preliminary round of competition comprised a swimsuit catwalk. All girls were decked out in identical yellow one-pieces and rated on a scale of 10. Minimum score: 9.675. Maximum score: 9.875. Average score: 9.765. 

Here’s the roster in order of appearance:



Spot
Surname
First name
Swimsuit score
1
Gedeon
Amani
9.675
2
Kahwagi
Carole
9.731
3
El Jurdi
Daria
9.769
4
Boustany
Elsa
9.700
5
Mouawad
Eva
9.688
6
Sader
Jana
9.888
7
Munayer
Lucie
9.700
8
Hayek
Mariam
9.744
9
Nicolas
Marita
9.700
10
Barrak
Mireille
9.819
11
Matar
Niveen
9.725
12
Helou
Perla
9.850
13
Khoury
Reem
9.769
14
Najem
Sabine
9.875
15
Mohsen
Yousra
9.838



It may not be immediately perceptible, but of the top six ranking ladies in this category, five emerged from spots 10-15. In other words, five of the last six girls to strut their stuff ended up scoring the highest marks. This table, organized by descending score magnitude, clarifies my point:



Spot
Surname
First name
Swimsuit score
6
Sader
Jana
9.888
14
Najem
Sabine
9.875
12
Helou
Perla
9.850
15
Mohsen
Yousra
9.838
10
Barrak
Mireille
9.819
13
Khoury
Reem
9.769
3
El Jurdi
Daria
9.769
8
Hayek
Mariam
9.744
2
Kahwagi
Carole
9.731
11
Matar
Niveen
9.725
4
Boustany
Elsa
9.700
7
Munayer
Lucie
9.700
9
Nicolas
Marita
9.700
5
Mouawad
Eva
9.688
1
Gedeon
Amani
9.675



So is it sheer coincidence? Well, let’s move on to the elegant wear contest and see if a pattern materializes.

In round two, participants were dressed with world-renowned fashion designer Georges Hobeika’s breathtaking couture. Here’s how they fared:


Spot
Surname
First name
Elegant wear score
1
Gedeon
Amani
9.744
2
Kahwagi
Carole
9.769
3
El Jurdi
Daria
9.781
4
Boustany
Elsa
9.763
5
Mouawad
Eva
9.750
6
Sader
Jana
9.888
7
Munayer
Lucie
9.763
8
Hayek
Mariam
9.794
9
Nicolas
Marita
9.763
10
Barrak
Mireille
9.806
11
Matar
Niveen
9.750
12
Helou
Perla
9.906
13
Khoury
Reem
9.856
14
Najem
Sabine
9.906
15
Mohsen
Yousra
9.894


Minimum score: 9.744. Maximum score: 9.906. Average: 9.809.

Indubitable is the realization that the same top-scoring ladies from the swimsuit competition nabbed the highest marks in the elegant wear category. Similarly, the six lowest-scoring participants in the swimsuit competition were the very same ladies who fleshed out the six lowest ranks in elegant wear. 

And uncannily enough, five of the six ladies who appeared last in the presentation lineup ranked in the top six. Here's confirmation:



Spot
Surname
First name
Elegant score
14
Najem
Sabine
9.906
12
Helou
Perla
9.906
15
Mohsen
Yousra
9.894
6
Sader
Jana
9.888
13
Khoury
Reem
9.856
10
Barrak
Mireille
9.806
8
Hayek
Mariam
9.794
3
El Jurdi
Daria
9.781
2
Kahwagi
Carole
9.769
4
Boustany
Elsa
9.763
7
Munayer
Lucie
9.763
9
Nicolas
Marita
9.763
11
Matar
Niveen
9.750
5
Mouawad
Eva
9.750
1
Gedeon
Amani
9.744




Note that scores on the whole increase with order of appearance of contestants


So I pose the question again: is it a coincidence that a contestant's spot in the lineup was directly proportional to the score she earned? In other words, if she appeared later rather than earlier in the queue, was she more likely to merit a higher score?

I can think of two possible explanations. Either judges started out prohibitively critical in their ratings, loosening up progressively with each passing participant as they adjusted expectations. 

Or the show producer assigned each participant a spot in the lineup relative to his own impression of how she’d be received by judges. Why? In the interest of amplifying viewers' suspense. In his eyes, the ladies toward the end of the queue scintillated more so than their counterparts at the front of the queue. Classic plot build-up.

Which do you think it might have been?

The scores from the swimsuit and elegant wear contests were then tallied to determine the top nine ladies who proceeded to the next stage of competition, the interview.


Spot
Surname
First name
Score sum
1
Gedeon
Amani
19.419
2
Kahwagi
Carole
19.500
3
El Jurdi
Daria
19.550
4
Boustany
Elsa
19.463
5
Mouawad
Eva
19.438
6
Sader
Jana
19.776
7
Munayer
Lucie
19.463
8
Hayek
Mariam
19.538
9
Nicolas
Marita
19.463
10
Barrak
Mireille
19.625
11
Matar
Niveen
19.475
12
Helou
Perla
19.756
13
Khoury
Reem
19.625
14
Najem
Sabine
19.781
15
Mohsen
Yousra
19.732



Local averages of score sums increase with order of appearance of contestants



In descending order of performance, the table looks like this:


Spot
Surname
First name
Score sum
14
Najem
Sabine
19.781
6
Sader
Jana
19.776
12
Helou
Perla
19.756
15
Mohsen
Yousra
19.732
13
Khoury
Reem
19.625
10
Barrak
Mireille
19.625
3
El Jurdi
Daria
19.550
8
Hayek
Mariam
19.538
2
Kahwagi
Carole
19.500
11
Matar
Niveen
19.475
4
Boustany
Elsa
19.463
7
Munayer
Lucie
19.463
9
Nicolas
Marita
19.463
5
Mouawad
Eva
19.438
1
Gedeon
Amani
19.419



Again, you’ll notice that ladies 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15 occupied five of the top six ranks. Heading the list were Sabine Najem and Jana Sader in the top two seats.

Each lady was required to answer a question articulated by a different judge, so no two questions bore any resemblance to one another. The judges scored the ladies as such, with a minimum score of 9.738 and a maximum score of 9.931.


Spot
Surname
First name
Score sum
Interview
6
Sader
Jana
19.776
9.931
12
Helou
Perla
19.756
9.900
14
Najem
Sabine
19.781
9.894
13
Khoury
Reem
19.625
9.856
3
El Jurdi
Daria
19.55
9.844
8
Hayek
Mariam
19.538
9.831
10
Barrak
Mireille
19.625
9.769
2
Kahwagi
Carole
19.500
9.763
15
Mohsen
Yousra
19.732
9.738



The formula used to select the top five ladies graduating to the final phase of the contest was described by presenter Dima Sadek as follows: 75% of the combined total of swimsuit and elegant wear, complemented by 25% of the interview total. A perfect score can be computed as 0.75*(10.000 + 10.000) + 0.25*(10.000) = 15.000 + 2.500 = 17.500.

Crunching the numbers, here’s the yield in descending order of total performance:


Spot
Surname
First name
Score sum
Interview
Aggregate total
6
Sader
Jana
19.776
9.931
17.315
14
Najem
Sabine
19.781
9.894
17.309
12
Helou
Perla
19.756
9.900
17.292
15
Mohsen
Yousra
19.732
9.738
17.234
13
Khoury
Reem
19.625
9.856
17.183
10
Barrak
Mireille
19.625
9.769
17.161
3
El Jurdi
Daria
19.550
9.844
17.124
8
Hayek
Mariam
19.538
9.831
17.111
2
Kahwagi
Carole
19.500
9.763
17.066




Aggregate totals before the victory-determining question



To reinforce the salient observation from the get-go, five of the top six scorers were ladies whose spots appeared toward the end of the original lineup (i.e., spots 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15).

Furthermore, it's worth mention that entering the final round, Jana Sader and Sabine Najem clung fiercely to the top two ranks.

In that final round, the top five ladies wrestled with an identical question pertaining to the effectiveness of  political demonstrations, and their responses were privately scored by the judges. Those results were never revealed to viewers, and we’re not even sure how they were weighed relative to the foregoing outcomes aggregated from the swimsuit, elegant wear, and interview stages.

What we do know is the final ranking:


Spot
Surname
First name
Rank
12
Helou
Perla
Winner
6
Sader
Jana
1st runner up
14
Najem
Sabine
2nd runner up
13
Khoury
Reem
3rd runner up
15
Mohsen
Yousra
4th runner up



There you have it again: ladies #12, #13, #14 and #15 stole the top five seats of Miss Lebanon 2017. Perla Helou emerged from her longstanding cumulative rank of 3rd to clinch gold, ousting both Jana Sader and Sabine Najem.


Perla Helou was crowned Miss Lebanon 2017 (photo source: Instagram)


It’d be telling to compare this year’s patterns to those from previous years, or to see if they project to forthcoming pageants. Only then can we statistically test the null hypothesis that those participants whose spot in line falls toward the end in fact fare better than those whose spot falls toward the front.

But I’ve already exceeded my pageant viewing quota for one year, wouldn’t you say? My assessment will just have to wait till next year, and even then, I can’t guarantee an equal sentiment of curiosity will prevail! 


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