A Texas woman won the title of Miss Universe 2023 this past Saturday night.
R’Bonney Gabriel is a fashion designer and model who was crowned Miss USA in 2022, making her eligible to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
The 71st Miss Universe pageant took place in New Orleans, where Gabriel, 28, competed against almost 90 contestants from across the globe.
Coming in as first runner-up was Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel. The second runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic, Andreína Martinez.
Gabriel’s win marks the first time Miss USA has won the Miss Universe pageant since 2012. The 2012 winner, Olivia Culpo, was from Rhode Island.
Last year’s winner of Miss Universe was Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu.
While representing Texas in 2022, Gabriel made history as the first Filipino-American woman to win Miss USA.
Gabriel’s resume includes a fashion degree from the University of North Texas and the position of chief executive for her own sustainable clothing company, R’Bonney Nola. Additionally, she serves a non-profit design house as a lead sewing instructor.
The non-profit she works for is also in the business of sustainable fashion, as it recycles unwanted textiles and fabrics. Her sewing classes are for women who have survived human trafficking and domestic violence.
Gabriel referred to this work during the Q&A session of Miss Universe while responding to how she would demonstrate that Miss Universe is “an empowering and progressive organization” if she were to win.
“It is so important to invest in others, invest in our community and use your unique talent to make a difference,” she explained.
The pageant continues to make the news this year with big changes.
In October, Chakrapong Jakrajutatip, a Thai businessperson, acquired the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million.
Starting this year, the organization is also doing away with the rule that contestants cannot be married or pregnant during the course of the competition.
Another recent addition is that future Miss Universe contestants will be required to hold a university degree or be working professionals.
The Miss Universe Organization also puts on the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants.
Now that Gabriel has won the Miss Universe title, she will sign a seven to 18-month contract and become an ambassador for a public cause for a year.