A new Miss Universe has been crowned!
Miss USAR’Bonney Gabriel was officially named Miss Universe 2022 on Saturday evening after a grueling competition at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in Louisiana.
Gabriel, 28, beat out runner-up Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel and second runner-up Miss Dominican Republic Andreína Martínez for the coveted prize. Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu presented Gabriel with her crown as she passed on the title of Miss Universe to her successor.
The fashion designer, model and sewing instructor from Texas is the first Miss USA to win Miss Universe in 10 years. The last Miss USA to take home the crown was Olivia Culpo in 2012.
Competition officials said that Gabriel was previously the first Filipino American to win the Miss USA pageant.
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Out of 84 delegates from across the world, only 20 had the opportunity to compete for the crown on Saturday. Culpo, 30, and Jeannie Mai Jenkins hosted and led the women through three rounds of competition: swimsuit, evening gown and interview.
During the final question round, Gabriel was asked how she would show that Miss Universe is “an empowering and progressive organization” if she were to win.
“I would use it to be a transformational leader,” she responded, before discussing her work using recycled materials in her fashion design, and how she teaches sewing to human trafficking and domestic violence survivors.
“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.”
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Gabriel also said during the competition that she hopes Miss Universe would allow women past the age of 28 to compete in the pageant.
“I am 28 years old, and that is the oldest age to compete,” she said at one point during the competition. “And I think that’s a beautiful thing.”
“My favorite quote is, ‘If not now, then when?’ ” Gabriel continued. “Because as a woman, I believe age does not define us.”
She added: “It’s not tomorrow. It’s not yesterday. But it’s now. The time is now that you can go after what you want.”
This is the first Miss Universe pageant held under the organization’s new ownership. JKN Global Group purchased Miss Universe for $20 million in October 2022, making its CEO Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip the first woman to own the organization in its 71-year history.
The Thai businesswoman, who is also a transgender rights advocate, laid out her plans for the organization in a press release announcing the deal, according to a previous Variety report.
“We seek not only to continue its legacy of providing a platform to passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation,” Jakrajutatip said at the time.
This is also the first time that New Orleans has hosted the Miss Universe pageant in its seven-decade history, according to NBC affiliate WDSU. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city is “celebrating the inclusion, the culture, and the empowerment of women.”
Kelly Schultz, of New Orleans and Company, said hosting the event in New Orleans “can be such a great voice” for the city, per WDSU. “We really are so grateful for them for lending us their voice,” she added.