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Texas model and fashion designer R'Bonney Gabriel is the new Miss Universe

The Houston-area native beat out 83 other women in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS — Friendswood model and fashion designer R'Bonney Gabriel won the 71st Miss Universe competition Saturday night in New Orleans.

Gabriel beat out 83 other women during the competition. The 28-year-old made history back in October when she became the first Filipina to win Miss USA. She was also the first Filipina to win Miss Texas.

In the dramatic winner reveal, Gabriel closed her eyes and clasped hands with runner-up Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, 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.

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

In the Q&A at the last stage of the competition for the three finalists, Gabriel was asked how she would work to demonstrate Miss Universe is “an empowering and progressive organization” if she were to win.

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

“It is so 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 plant those seeds to other people in our life, we transform them and we 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. She's the lead sewing instructor at Magpies & Peacocks, a non-profit in Houston dedicated to the "collection and sustainable euse of post-consumer clothing, scrap textiles and accessories diverted from landfill." 

She did it! UNT College of Visual Arts and Design alumna R'Bonney Gabriel is Miss Universe 2023! Congratulations! You...

Posted by University of North Texas on Sunday, January 15, 2023

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.

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