Though she once held the coveted title of Miss Universe, DEMI-LEIGH TEBOW encourages women to find purpose and confidence outside of their accomplishments or titles, and chase crowns that last. She inspires with her story of how she fought her way out of a carjacking incident involving five armed men and turned it into a campaign to empower women around the world.
General Business/Business for Impact
DEMI-LEIGH TEBOW, with a degree in entrepreneurial studies, is passionate about businesses that provide a great product or service while also making a positive impact. She and her husband, Tim Tebow, have several businesses of their own that serve a greater purpose. Demi explains how it is possible to be a business owner while also creating sustainable change around the world. Having met with organizations worldwide that do just that, Demi shares the knowledge she’s gained.
As former Miss Universe, DEMI-LEIGH TEBOW shares how she seeks to use her platform for purpose and what it means to lead by example when the world is watching. She inspires others to know that they are their own CEOs – capable of becoming leaders in their own social circles and using their unique skills and talents to influence those around them.
Believing that each of us is made in God’s image and likeness, DEMI-LEIGH TEBOW gives practical advice for how to acquire God Confidence – a foundational truth that is unwavering despite what life throws our way. In a world telling us our value lies with our outer appearance or a worldly model of success, she explains that confidence comes from believing in who God says you are instead. Demi shares how she leaned into her faith during her most trying times in life, including losing her sister, and how God can help us find purpose in our pain.
After fighting her way out of a carjacking incident involving five armed men, DEMI-LEIGH TEBOW became motivated to fight for vulnerable women and children around the world. Alongside her husband, Tim Tebow, and the Tim Tebow Foundation, Demi shares how she is working to fight the evils of human trafficking, tells stories of the inspiring individuals she has met through her philanthropic work and encourages others to know that they can make a difference right where they are.
South African Roots
Much of my South African roots make me who I am today. I grew up in Sedgefield, a small town located in the Garden Route region of the Western Cape province with a population of about 15,000 people. My childhood years spent in this “slow” town are some of my most cherished memories. Some of my favorite local spots in Sedgefield are the weekly Wild Oats Farmers market, which is where my ardent foodie habits originated, and where exploring the beautiful scenery of beaches and lush greenery all around created my love of nature.
I traded the slow-paced lifestyle of my childhood to attend a boarding school in George, a town located outside Sedgefield. I found new passions and challenges there including a love for field hockey and track, as well as language and acting. If I could summarize my school years, it would be that I’ve always been community-minded where serving people is my real passion. In the 11th grade, I was the Deputy Junior Mayor of the George City Council. I was also the first girl in my school’s then 95-year history to be the president of both the school and boarding house’s student council. In South African terms, we call that the “head girl,” and this experience helped cultivate my leadership abilities. I’ve always been driven to be a part of a team whether it be on a sports field or mentoring my younger “sisters” in my school. This passion for being a leader, bringing people together, helping them to live life fully, and finding their purpose and value has carried into my adulthood today.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
The entrepreneurial spirit has always been in my blood, as many of my family members own their own businesses. Starting as a child, you could often find me selling cupcakes or even toilet paper at my boarding house! I decided to make it official by embarking on a new adventure at North-West University in Potchefstroom by pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurial studies. Now, with the passion fueled in me from childhood and a degree in the field, I’m living out my dream of becoming an Entrepreneur with several businesses launching this year!
Becoming Miss South Africa
Many little girls grow up dreaming about Disney Princesses with beautiful ball gowns, and I was definitely one of those starry-eyed girls. Although I’ve always held the previous Miss South Africa title-holders in high esteem due to the way they utilized their platform to make a difference, I wouldn’t say I was a stereotypical pageant girl. My first pageant encounter was when friends played a prank on me by signing me up for our school pageant.
From the first day of entering the Miss South Africa pageant, I took the fact that I could be representing my country on an international stage very seriously. I soon learned that the Miss South Africa platform was so much more than the perception that it’s just about beauty. The Miss South Africa platform is so much more about being an ambassador for our country, and representing the rich culture and unique aspects of what our country has to offer.
I always knew I wanted to be a Miss South Africa type of woman; one who represents her country by leading with passion and purpose. I wanted to be someone my fellow South Africans could be proud of. I was given the position to speak out about serious issues South Africans face daily. I wanted to have a “reign” of significance through developing my Philanthropic Projects. After surviving a horrific attempted hijacking in South Africa, I started the Unbreakable Campaign, which aims to educate, uplift and empower women all over the world on how to prevent and manage dangerous situations. I realized my mission was then, and still is, to make a difference in the lives of the people in my community, country and ultimately the world.
Becoming Miss Universe
Being Miss Universe was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am so thankful to have been a part of something bigger than myself. Traveling all over the world opened my eyes to so many things, especially the need for every individual to be heard, loved and valued.
The journey started with traveling to the U.S. with three suitcases, my South African flag, and a dream of becoming the first South African Miss Universe in 39 years. Being Miss Universe was not just a personal victory, I hoped it would inspire every South African boy or girl to pursue their dreams too.
Miss Universe extended the platform to grow my #Unbreakable Campaign on the international stage. South Africa has one of the highest percentages of gender-based violence in the world. I started this initiative to focus on equipping vulnerable women to seek help and empower them with the skills and knowledge to prevent unwanted violence. The #Unbreakable campaign grew into a global community of hope and support for women around the world.
My Big Move to the United States
Competing for Miss Universe in Las Vegas was my first time to step foot on American soil. The night I won, I immediately boarded a flight and moved to New York City, which was a requirement of Miss Universe for one year during my “reign.” I was in awe of its magnificence. I started out with my three bags packed of pageant clothes (with no snow boots I might add), and began to soak up all that the “city that never sleeps” had to offer.
I often wandered the streets and got lost in the sight of all of the skyscrapers. During my stay, I had a few “firsts” including experiencing Christmas in New York (with my newly purchased snow boots). As a self-proclaimed foodie, I also had a bite of my first, real New York cheesecake, and made it a habit of indulging in my favorite salted caramel cheesecake from Magnolia’s more than I’d like to admit. I also experienced my first run in Central Park, and for some reason broke out into hives (if you’ve seen “Hitch” you know what I’m talking about!) My time in New York City will always be a great adventure I look back on with fondness.
Becoming Mrs. Tebow
Moving to America was the beginning of many new things for me. It helped me fulfill my dream of serving people on a global platform, was the start of many new friendships, and led me to the love of my life!
In 2018, I was the reigning Miss Universe living in New York. I spoke about my sister, Franje, who was born with special needs, often in interviews and speaking engagements. One day this guy reached out to invite my sister to the first Night to Shine in South Africa. This is an annual event put on by the Tim Tebow Foundation, an unforgettable worldwide prom night for people 14 years and older with special needs. Due to my sister’s weakened immune system, she was unable to attend the event, but it led to me meeting my husband, Tim, and that started the rest of our lives together. I really got to know Tim as the “Night to Shine Guy”, and I think that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. He stood for something so much bigger than himself, and part of his purpose in life is to fight for people that cannot fight for themselves. Franje has since found her home in heaven, but I will always be thankful to my little sister for being the ultimate matchmaker and bringing us together. I’m honored to live a life with Tim as my partner, where we both share the same purpose of loving God and others while fighting together for those who cannot fight for themselves.