The Miss Universe competition was streamed live on Saturday, January 14th, from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Over 80 women from various countries around the world competed for the coveted title of Miss Universe. The pageant featured a variety of categories, including interviews, evening gown, swimwear, and community impact. After a highly competitive competition, the ballots were tabulated and the title of the 71st Miss Universe went to Miss USA R’bonney Gabriel.
Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel, a 28-year-old fashion designer from Houston, Texas, crowned Miss Universe by the previous titleholder, Harnaaz Sandhu. Gabriel is the first Filipino American to win the Miss USA title, and is also a model and sewing instructor. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design with a Minor in Fibers from the University of North Texas and is the CEO of her own sustainable clothing line. Her platform is to inspire women and young girls to conquer their goals by owning who they are.
In 2020, R’Bonney Gabriel began her pageant journey by competing in Miss Kemah USA, where she was a Top 5 finalist. She went on to compete in Miss Texas USA 2021 and was named first runner-up. However, in 2022, she achieved victory by winning Miss Texas USA 2022. That same year, she represented Texas in Miss USA 2020 and made history by becoming the first Miss USA of Filipino descent.
when she made the Top 3, she was asked: “If you win Miss Universe, how will you work to demonstrate this is an empowering and progressive organization?”
Her winning response that helped her clinch the title was: “I would use it to be a transformational leader. As a very passionate designer, I’ve been sewing for 13 years, I use fashion as a force for good. In my industry, I’m cutting down on pollution through recycled materials when I make my clothing. I teach sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence. And I say that because it is so important to invest in others, invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference. We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds in other people in our life, we transform them, and we use that as a vehicle for change.”
The first runner-up was Amanda Dudamel, Miss Universe Venezuela 2022, and the second runner-up was Andreina Martinez Founier, Miss Universe Dominican Republic 2022.
At the event, Sofia Depassier from Chile and Maxine Formosa from Malta were jointly awarded Miss Congeniality, Anna Sueangam-iam from Thailand received the Social Impact award, and Viktoria Apanasenko from Ukraine was honored with the Spirit of Carnival Award. The 71st edition of Miss Universe was represented by Sophiya Bhujel from Nepal, who was crowned Miss Universe Nepal 2022.
The Miss Universe pageant was hosted by Olivia Culpo and Jeannie Mai Jenkins, live from New Orleans. The judging panel consisted of Ximena Navarrete, Big Freedia, Mara Martin, Wendy Fitzwilliam, Emily Austin, Olivia Quido, Myrka Dellanos, Sweta Patel, Kathleen Ventrella, and Olivia Jordan.