Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel celebrates after winning the 71st Miss Universe competition at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Centre, Louisiana, on Saturday night. AFP / AP / Reuters
Gabriel closed her eyes and clasped hands with runner-up Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, at the moment of the dramatic reveal of the winner, 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 at the 71st Miss Universe Competition, held in New Orleans.
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 organisation” 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 organisation's website said she is also CEO of her own sustainable clothing line.
Nearly 90 contestants from around the world took part in the competition, organisers 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. Last year’s winner was Harnaaz Sandhu of India.
Former title holder Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu of India crowned her successor in a glittering ceremony at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
Contestants from over 84 countries were whittled down to just 16 as the only two contestants from the Middle East — Miss Universe Bahrain Evlin Abdullah Khalifa and Miss Universe Lebanon Yasmina Zaytoun — did not make the cut.
Over the course of Saturday night's final competition the contestants were narrowed down to just three hopefuls from the Dominican Republic, the US and Venezuela.
Miss Ukraine’s outfit for the Miss Universe pageant’s national costume competition was a “Warrior of Light” ensemble commended worldwide for its symbolism.
Viktoria Apanasenko, representing the war-torn country at the Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans on Jan.14, revealed a stunning multilayered motif with ornate, oversize blue and yellow wings.
The outfit was complete with a weapon (sword) and body armour. An Instagram post on Miss Ukraine’s page said: “The ‘Warrior of Light’ costume symbolises our nation’s fight against darkness. Like Archangel Michael, who defends Ukraine with a sword, it protects us.”
Sini Shetty from Karnataka was announced the winner of Femina Miss India World 2022 title. Rajasthan’s Rubal Shekhawat emerged as Femina Miss India 2022 first runner-up and Shinata Chauhan from UP was named second runner-up.
The glitzy competition, born from a 1921 Atlantic City beauty contest just a year after women were given the right to vote, maintains a complicated presence in American culture that has undergone multiple waves of feminism.
This is the first time a contestant from Nicaragua has won the contest, with Thailand's Anntonia Porsild and Australia's Moraya Wilson rounding out the top three.
In fact, as we walked, we gradually realized that thousands of Porsche drivers were converging for a convention, one of many luxury-car events the area hosts every year.
Over the weekend and before the celebratory graduation party for 13 women who dared to learn about coffee-making and mixology – that which is about all the wide range of aperitifs and mixed drinks, Fahim Arrif who began as a barrista himself in his native South Africa 18 years back, said: “Over the nine years I have been in the UAE, the consumer palette for coffee has changed drastically. People have learnt to educate themselves about food they consume.
If you’re not a breakfast person, Lavash also has got you covered as the sun sets, Lavash transforms into a haven for unique unlimited pizzas