West News Wire: Miss Universe was announced on Saturday night. R’Bonney Gabriel, a fashion designer, model, and sewing instructor from Texas, is the first Filipino American to win Miss USA, according to competition authorities.

When the winner was finally revealed in a spectacular fashion, Gabriel closed her eyes and held hands with Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, and smiled when her name was called.

At the 71st Miss Universe Pageant in New Orleans, she was presented with a bunch of flowers, draped in the winner’s sash, and given a tiara as thundering music played in the background.

Miss Dominican Republic, Andreina Martinez, came in second place.

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. A short bio posted on the organization’s website said she is also CEO of her own sustainable clothing line.

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Nearly 90 contestants from around the world took part in the competition, organizers said, involving “personal statements, in depth interviews and various categories including evening gown & swimwear.”

Miss Curacao, Gabriela Dos Santos, and Miss Puerto Rico, Ashley Carino, rounded out the top five finalists.


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