Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel has been crowned the new Miss Universe
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Miss USA has been crowned the new Miss Universe.
R'Bonney Gabriel was named the winner of the 71st annual Miss Universe pageant on Saturday night in New Orleans, Louisiana.
In second place was Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel, followed by Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez.
Gabriel is the first Miss USA to win Miss Universe in 10 years. The last Miss USA to take the crown was Olivia Culpo in 2012.
Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel, Miss USA R'bonney Gabriel, and Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez speak during The 71st Miss Universe Competition at New Orleans Morial Convention Center on January 14, 2023, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jason Kempin/Getty Images
During the final question round, Gabriel was asked how she would demonstrate Miss Universe as an empowering and progressive organization.
"I would use it to be a transformational leader," she said. "As a very passionate designer, I've been sewing for 13 years, I use fashion as a force for good. In my industry, I'm cutting down on pollution through recycled materials when I make my clothing. I teach sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence."
"And I say that because it is so important to invest in others," she added. "Invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference. We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds to other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change."
During the competition, Gabriel said she also hoped that Miss Universe would allow women past the age of 28 to compete in the pageant.
Miss USA, R'Bonney Gabriel walks onstage during the 71st Miss Universe preliminary competition at New Orleans Morial Convention Center on January 11, 2023, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Josh Brasted/Getty Images
"I am 28 years old, and that is the oldest age to compete," she said during the top-five question round. "And I think that's a beautiful thing."
"My favorite quote is, 'If not now, then when?"' Gabriel added. "Because as a woman, I believe age does not define us. It's not tomorrow. It's not yesterday. But it's now. The time is now that you can go after what you want."
Gabriel during the 2022 Miss USA pageant in Reno, Nevada. Finesse Levine
Gabriel, 28, is a model, fashion designer, and sewing instructor from Houston, Texas, who prioritizes the environment in her work. She launched a sustainable clothing line after earning a bachelor's degree in fashion design, and she incorporates eco-friendly techniques into her sewing lessons at Magpies & Peacocks, a nonprofit organization where she works.
She's also the first Filipino American to win Miss USA, and according to her Miss Universe bio, was later featured in Vogue Philippines.
Gabriel's win as Miss USA made headlines when multiple contestants claimed that the pageant had been rigged in her favor.
"I would never enter any pageant or any competition that I know I would win," Gabriel told E! News on October 6. "I have a lot of integrity. I want to be transparent, and I want everybody to know that there was no unfair advantage and nothing was rigged."