NEW ORLEANS—R’Bonney Gabriel, a fashion designer, model, and sewing instructor from Texas who competition officials said is the first Filipino American to win Miss USA, was crowned Miss Universe on Saturday night.
Gabriel closed her eyes and clasped hands with runner-up Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, at the moment of the dramatic reveal of the winner, then beamed after her name was announced.
Thumping music rang out, and she was handed a bouquet of flowers, draped in the winner’s sash and crowned with a tiara onstage at the 71st Miss Universe Competition, held in New Orleans.
The second runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic, Andreina Martinez.
According to Miss Universe, Gabriel is a former high school volleyball player and graduate of the University of North Texas. A short bio posted on the organization’s website said she is also CEO of her own sustainable clothing line.
Nearly 90 contestants from around the world took part in the competition, organizers said, involving “personal statements, in depth interviews, and various categories including evening gown & swimwear.”
Miss Curacao, Gabriela Dos Santos, and Miss Puerto Rico, Ashley Carino, rounded out the top five finalists.
Last year’s winner was Harnaaz Sandhu of India.