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R’Bonney Gabriel, Miss USA, wins Miss Universe and vows to be a “transformational leader.”

R’Bonney Gabriel, a fashion designer, model, and sewing instructor from Texas, was crowned Miss Universe on Saturday night, becoming the first Filipino American to do so, according to competition officials.

Gabriel closed her eyes and clasped hands with Miss Venezuela runner-up Amanda Dudamel during the dramatic reveal of the winner, then beaming after her name was announced.

Onstage at the 71st Miss Universe Competition in New Orleans, thumping music rang out, and she was handed a bouquet of flowers, draped in the winner’s sash, and crowned with a tiara.

Andreina Martinez, Miss Dominican Republic, finished second.

During the final round of the competition for the three finalists, Gabriel was asked how she would work to show Miss Universe is a “empowering and progressive organisation” if she won.

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

“It is critical to invest in others, in our community, and to use your unique talent to make a difference,” Gabriel added. “We all have something special to offer, and when we plant those seeds in the lives of others, we transform them and use them as a vehicle for change.”

Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib, who owns JKN Global Group Public Co. Ltd., is a Thai reality show star who is open about her gender identity.

When the purchase was announced in October, Chakrajutathib stated that she wanted to “evolve the brand for the next generation.”

Gabriel is a former high school volleyball player and a graduate of the University of North Texas, according to Miss Universe. According to a brief bio on the organization’s website, she is also the CEO of her own sustainable clothing line.

According to organisers, nearly 90 contestants from around the world competed in the competition, which included “personal statements, in-depth interviews, and various categories including evening gown & swimwear.”

The top five finalists were Miss Curacao, Gabrila Dos Santos, and Miss Puerto Rico, Ashley Carino.

Harnaaz Sandhu of India won last year.

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