Gabriel R’Bonney from the United States was crowned the 71st Miss Universe on Saturday night.

Gabriel, who last year became the first Filipino-American to win Miss USA, won the crown ahead of Amanda Dudamel of Venezuela and Andreína Martínez of the Dominican Republic.

The pageant was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, with 84 women from around the world competing for the crown.

Saturday night was the last day of the competition, with eliminations reducing the number of finalists until the final two remained.

When Gabriel entered the Top 5, she was asked, “Miss Universe recently made an inclusive change allowing mothers and married women to compete this year. What other change would you like to see and why?”

Gabriel replied that she hoped the pageant organizers would raise the age limit for contestants.

“For me, I’d like to see an age increase because I’m 28. And that’s the highest age to compete. And I think that’s a beautiful thing. My favorite quote is ‘ if not now, then when?’ Because as a woman, I believe age doesn’t define us. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now. The time has come,” she said. declared.

Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel is crowned at the Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans on January 14, 2023. Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Gabriel, originally from Houston, is a model, fashion designer and sewing instructor who prioritizes the environment in her work.

Earlier in the contest, Gabriel donned a red-orange cape inspired by a rising phoenix with the maxim “if not now, then when”, which she had dyed herself. The words draw on his father’s advice for acting on goals, dreams and desires.

In the final Q&A segment of the pageant, the top 3 contestants were asked how they would work to demonstrate that Miss Universe is an empowering and progressive organization if they win the title.

Gabriel said she would use the platform to be a “transformational leader” and highlighted her passion as a force for good in the fashion industry by reducing pollution and using recycled materials in fashion. clothing manufacturing.

“I teach sewing classes to women who have survived human trafficking and domestic violence. And I say this because it is so important to invest in others, to invest in our community and to use your unique talent to make a difference,” said Gabriel.

“We all have something special and when we plant those seeds for other people in our lives, we transform them and use them as a vehicle for change.”

This year’s pageant was first organized by JKN Global Group PCL, a Thailand-based media distribution company, after mogul and transgender rights advocate Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip bought the Miss Universe organization for 20 million dollars in October.

Jakkaphong has been candid about her experiences as a transgender woman and is also the first female pageant owner.

She made an appearance on stage to award the ImpactWayv Challenge winner of Thailand’s Anna Sueangam-iam, honoring her commitments to social good.
During the preliminary rounds of the pageant, Miss Thailand made waves in a dress made from soda tablets – a tribute to her humble beginnings and her parents’ work as garbage collectors.

A previous version of this article misidentified Gabriel. She is the first Filipina-American to win Miss USA.

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