Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel wins Miss Universe Competition

The crown at the 71st Miss Universe pageant went to the first Filipino-American to win Miss USA at the international beauty pageant in New Orleans on Saturday night.

R’Bonney Gabriel, a fashion designer, model and sewing instructor from Texas, beat 83 other contestants.

Gabriel closed her eyes and joined hands with runner-up Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, at the moment of the winner’s dramatic reveal, beaming as her name was announced.

There was thumping music and she was handed a bouquet of flowers, draped in the winner’s sash and crowned with a tiara on stage.

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The Miss Universe Organization suspended the organizers of the Miss USA pageant – Miss Brand Corp – after allegations surfaced in October 2022 that the contest was rigged and the winner was predetermined.

Miss Texas R’Bonney Gabriel was crowned Miss USA on October 3.

Shortly after her victory, contestants began complaining that she had actually been “pre-selected” to be the next title holder.

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Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel, back on camera, is hugged by other contestants after being crowned Miss Universe at the 71st Miss Universe pageant on Saturday, January 14, 2023 in New Orleans.

Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel, back on camera, is hugged by other contestants after being crowned Miss Universe at the 71st Miss Universe pageant on Saturday, January 14, 2023 in New Orleans.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu held back tears and almost fell as she took the stage for the last time.

She has put on weight since winning the crown and said in August 2022 that she was constantly criticized on social media.

“I was bullied for gaining weight,” said the Indian-born beauty queen. “It was kind of awkward and really surprising to me to see how people started getting opinions, which shouldn’t really matter. It’s not about what you look like, it’s about who you are on the inside and how you treat people and what you believe in.”

The second runner-up of Saturday’s competition was Miss Dominican Republic Andreina Martinez.

In the final stage Q&A for the three finalists, Gabriel was asked how she would work to show that Miss Universe is “a powerful and progressive organization” if she were to win.

“I would use it to be a transformational leader,” she replied, citing her work using recycled materials in her fashion design and teaching sewing to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

The final three contestants react at the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans on Saturday, January 14, 2023. From left to right Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel, Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel and Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez.

The final three contestants react at the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans on Saturday, January 14, 2023. From left to right Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel, Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel and Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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“It’s so important to invest in others, invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference,” Gabriel continued. “We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds for other people in our lives, we transform them and use that as a vehicle for change.”

Stephanie Nolasco, Lauryn Overhultz and Fox News’ Associated Press contributed to this report.

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