Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel is Crowned Miss Universe: On Saturday night in New Orleans, R’Bonney Gabriel, the first Filipina American to win Miss USA, triumphed over 83 other candidates for the title of Miss Universe. The Miss Universe website called Gabriel “a voice for Asian Americans” which “opens the door for more diversity and representation in society.”

Gabriel has spoken before about her immigrant roots. “My dad moved to America from the Philippines on a college scholarship with about $20 in his pocket,” she said last year when she has crowned Miss USA. “I’m a very proud Filipina American.”

In the nation of her father, the news was widely reported. The Manila Times said that Filipinos had been “rooting” for her since the country’s own contender failed to advance to the finals, while The Philippine Star wrote about her origins.

At 28, Gabriel is at the top of the age limit set by the competition. “Delegates must be at least 18 years of age and under 28 years of age on the date, the National competition commenced,” the official website reads.

When asked during the pageant what change she would make to the contest, she said she would raise the age limit. “I am 28 years old. And that is the oldest age to compete. And I think it’s a beautiful thing,” she said.

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For the first time in its 70-year history, married women and moms were permitted to compete in the Miss Universe contest this year. Gabriel, a native of Houston, serves as the company’s CEO. R’Bonney Nola produces eco-friendly clothes. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in fashion design.

At the competition’s costume show last week, Gabriel entered the stage donning a NASA-inspired ensemble that included thigh-high metallic boots, moon-shaped headgear, and wings made of silver stars. Philippine media reported that Filipino designer Patrick Isorena was responsible for its creation.

Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel is Crowned Miss Universe
Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel is Crowned Miss Universe

During the costume show, candidates can showcase their cultural background and pay homage to their home nations. However, Gabriel’s ensemble received criticism on social media, where some claimed it implied that the US was claiming the moon.

“You know what’s American? the moon!” one Twitter user said in response to the outfit. “The United States of America, a country known for restraint and modesty,” another said.

Explaining her costume choice on Instagram, Gabriel said that as a native of Houston, where NASA’s Johnson Space Center is located, she was “proud to be from a city working to send the first female to the moon.”

“On July 20, 1969, two US astronauts became the first humans to step foot on the moon accomplishing one of the most remarkable achievements in human history,” she wrote. “Fast forward to today and women are involved more than ever in the Artemis program aiming to send the US back to the moon.”

Since the Apollo flights of the 1960s and 1970s, NASA has been working on the Artemis program, which seeks to send men back to the moon in a series of missions. This time, the program has pledged to send a woman and an astronaut of color on its missions.

Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel placed top in the Miss Universe competition in New Orleans on Saturday, and Miss Dominican Republic Andrena Martnez placed second.

Final Words

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. Check out our Leedaily.com for more information about what’s on this week.