Texas

Miss USA R’Bonnie Gabrielle of Houston won Miss Universe

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — R’Bonnie Gabrielle, a Houston-based fashion designer, model and sewing instructor who is the first Filipino-American to win Miss USA, according to pageant officials, was crowned Miss Universe on Saturday night.

Gabrielle closed her eyes and shook hands with Miss Venezuela runner-up Amanda Dudamel at the moment of the dramatic announcement of the winner, and then beamed after her name was announced.

Loud music blared and she was presented with a bouquet of flowers wrapped in a winner’s sash and topped with a tiara on stage at the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans.

The second runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic Andreina Martinez.

In a Q&A session for the final three finalists, Gabrielle was asked how she would work to demonstrate that Miss Universe is an “empowering and progressive organization” if she wins.

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

“It is very 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 sow those seeds to other people in our lives, we transform them and use that as a vehicle for change.”

According to Miss Universe, Gabriel is a former high school volleyball player and graduate of the University of North Texas. A short biography posted on the organization’s website states that she is also the CEO of her own sustainable clothing line.

About 90 contestants from all over the world participated in the contest, including “personal statements, in-depth interviews, and various categories including evening gowns and swimwear,” organizers said.

Miss Curaçao Gabriela Dos Santos and Miss Puerto Rico Ashley Carino rounded out the top five.

Last year’s winner was Harnaaz Sandhu from India.

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