Miss USA contestant questions if competition was rigged
Gabriel's ultimate win followed a controversy at the Miss USA pageant that Gabriel's win had been rigged
. Fellow American contestants said at the time that Gabriel's win had been the result of 'favoritism.'
The legitimacy of her win was also challenged by fellow contenders who said it was suspect that a beauty treatment company that offers a price to the winner featured Gabriel in an ad less than 24 hours after she won.
Gabriel appeared in an ad for NIZUC spas less than 24 hours after she won the Miss USA pageant, which led other competitors to believe the contest had been rigged from the start.
Miss Montana, Heather Lee O'Keefe claimed the ads proved the winner was chosen unfairly: '@MissUSA was crowned less than 24 hours ago, yet she already got her sponsored vacation to @NIZUCResort,' she wrote.
Adding, 'Are you kidding me? I was giving y’all the benefit of the doubt, but this is just embarrassing at this point.'
In her defense, Gabriel claimed that she was a brand ambassador for NIZUC's affiliate company MIA Beaute, which also sponsors the Miss Texas pageant and was opening a new spa at the NIZUC resort in Mexico.
Doubters didn't necessarily buy the excuse, however, noting that the founder of MIA is one of the judges at the Miss USA competition. O'Keefe claimed that Gabriel's ambassadorship was a violation of the handbook and that no contestant should have been allowed to work with Miss USA national sponsors.
Controversy continued to spiral for Gabriel when a picture of Crystle Stewart, one of the Miss USA organizers, doing Gabriel's hair backstage circulated. The picture served as greater fodder for the claim of favoritism.
However, Gabriel said the photo was snapped the day after the crowning just before official Miss USA headshots.
The 28-year-old beauty queen won the global title after a controversial Miss USA pageant, where contestants claimed evidence suggested the competition had been rigged
R'Bonney Gabriel, 28, of Houston, (pictured) is in full-blown competition mode since touching down in Louisiana on Tuesday, ahead of the January 14 Miss Universe competition
Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel struts during the swimsuit portion of the competition
Semi-finalists (from left to right) Miss India Divita Rai, Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel, Miss Spain Alicia Faubel, Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel and Miss Colombia Maria Fernanda Aristizabal
Gabriel is hugged by fellow competitors after winning the Miss Universe crown Saturday
Gabriel, a Texas native, runs a sustainable clothing line and said Saturday that she will use her title to become a 'transformational leader.'
During the competition, she said that 'as a very passionate designer - 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 to other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change,' she said.
R'Bonney Gabriel, a 28-year-old fashion designer, during the 71st Miss Universe pageant held in New Orleans on Saturday
Miss USA winner R'Bonney Gabriel asks fans to vote for Miss Universe
Gabriel (left) with Miss Teen USA, Faron Medhi of Nebraska
Gabriel directly following her win on Saturday night
Saturday night's pageant was held in New Orleans to honor the late Cheslie Kryst, who was crowned Miss USA at the same venue in 2019.
The pageant paid tribute to Kryst, who jumped to her death in New York City last January, just several weeks after appearing as a correspondent for the 70th Miss Universe competition.
Kryst's mother appeared on stage Saturday to announce that the National Alliance on Mental Illness established the Cheslie Kryst Memorial Fund for Mental Health in her honor.
'Cheslie dealt with high-functioning depression,' said her mom, April Simpkins, said on the competition stage. 'The Chelsie you saw didn’t always match the way she felt inside. Just because someone tells you they’re fine, doesn’t mean they are.'
Toshami Calvin Channels Nanny of the Maroons for Miss Universe National Costume – Watch Videos
The top 16 contestants included Puerto Rico, Haiti, Australia, Dominica Republic, Laos, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Curacao, India, Venezuela, Spain, USA, and Colombia with Miss Jamaica missing out.
The pageant was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States of America.
Days ago, Toshami Calvin made a stunning tribute to Jamaica’s national heroine in a green costume. The homage to Nanny of the Maroons saw the 26-year-old behavioural technician modelling with a sword and abeng during the 71st Miss Universe preliminary swimsuit, gown, and national costume competition.
See the last 16 below.
Miss Universe contestants show off their patriotic sides in elaborate gowns inspired by their home countries during the national costume round As she continues to represent Jamaica and its culture internationally in the 71st staging of the Miss Universe pageant, Miss Jamaica Universe Toshami Calvin channeled the Jamaican heroine, Nanny of the Maroons, for the competition’s national costume segment.
Calvin succeeded Miss Jamaica Universe 2021, Daena Soares, in September 2022 and will be competing alongside 83 other delegates from countries around the world for the title of Miss Universe. Ahead of the pageant’s staging on January 14 in the United States, in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Calvin and her fellow delegates have showcased their cultural heritage, style, grace, and physical attributes in the national costume, preliminary evening gown, and preliminary swimsuit segments.
The 26-year-old is a registered behavioural technician and therapy provider for children on the autism spectrum. She paid homage to the children she cared for during the swimsuit segment, wearing a chiffon cape emblazoned with the phrase “Autistic Pride” below an image of Jamaica and a part of the national motto “Out Of Many.”
Calvin dazzled in a golden ensemble for the evening gown section of the show but truly shone in the national costume portion in an emerald green piece. Channeling Jamaica’s only female national hero, Nanny of the Maroons, Calvin wore the heroine’s iconic white headscarf embellished in silver while armed with a sabre and the maroon’s well-known abeng (horn of a cow).
Those who wish to vote for Calvin in the semi-final may do so on the Miss Universe app or the pageant’s official website. Voting closes on Friday, January 13, at midnight, ahead of the finals on Saturday.
Watch the videos below:
Women from all over the world have dazzled in elaborate gowns during the 'national costume' round of the 71st Miss Universe Competition.
Almost 90 women took part in the competition at New Orleans Morial Convention Center in Louisiana, paying homage to their countries.
Miss Great Britain, Noky Simbani wore an elegant white and gown with silver and sapphire diamante detailing and lavish velvet emerald cape with fur trim. The 26-year-old from Derbyshire also wore a small silver crown, which looked like it could have been referencing the late Queen Elizabeth II as she represented Great Britain to the world.
Elsewhere, Miss Paraguay, Lia Aymara Duarte Ashmore appeared on stage dressed in a luscious ruby cape and full lion's mask, the animal aligned with the nation, and Miss Italy, Virginia Stablum dressed in full Venetian regalia complete with a Venetian mask.
Yes, Your Majesty! Miss Great Britain Noky Simbani looked regal on stage during the 71st Miss Universe Competition's national costume round. Noky, from Derbyshire paid homage to the late Queen Elizabeth II in an emerald velvet cape with fur trim and stunning silver crown
Lady in pink! Miss Laos, Payengxa Lor stunned as she took the stage in an extravagant beaded headdress. Following with textures, Miss Laos' traditional pink dress, was full of pom poms, tassels and even more beads in all shades of pink
Now you see me! Miss Italy, Virginia Stablum took a progressive approach when she stepped out in full male Venetian regalia, complete with a Venetian mask
In full bloom! Looking to the coast of her country Miss Bulgaria's Kristina Plamenova dressed as a sand lily, which are commonly found along parts of the Bulgarian coast line
Waffley cute! Paying a rightful tribute to the humble stroopwafel, Miss Netherlands, Ona Moody fashioned it as a tutu. And if that wasn't enough she wore a teapot on her head to compliment
Working the sass! Toshami Calvin, Miss Jamaica, put on a feisty display as she appeared on stage with stag sword and blowing horn. She was dressed in extravagant emerald green feathers and sequins
Reclaiming identity! Miss El Salvador, Alexjandra Guajardo Sada appeared on stage dressed as a colón, which was the currency of El Salvador from 1892 until 2001, when it was replaced by the US dollar during the presidency of Francisco Flores
Warrior the water! Laksmi De Neefe Suardana, Miss Indonesia wore a stunning gold embellished leotard and incorporated many aspects into the rest of her outfit - On her shoulders and above her head she wore spectacular golden sea ship, with sails and her hand held a mighty spear
Golden angel! Walking on stage in a stunning intricate golden sari, Miss India, Divita Rai also added a brilliant pair of shimmering golden angel wings
Fiery and feisty! Miss Colombia, Maria Fernanda Aristizabal (left) wore a magnificent firebird outfit, in shocking shades of yellow, orange and red. Miss Dominican Republic, Andreina Martinez (right) stepped out in a golden feathery creation, which could have been referencing the Dominican Republic's national bird - the palmchat
And while there were some fiery explosions of colour, flames and wings, other women took a subtler approach to their gowns, opting for a more ethereal dialed back tone.
Miss Iceland, Hrafnhildur Haraldsdottir, for example, walked on stage in a strapless white gown with a full skirt, detailing illustrations of her country. And Miss Costa Rica, Maria Fernanda Rodriguez Avila walked on stage as sultry, hummingbird in deep blues and greens.
Miss Cayman Islands, Chloe Powery-Doxey and Miss Haiti, Mideline Phelizor both attempted to incorporate plants and earthly elements into their national dress.
Elegant and etheral! Miss Iceland, Hrafnhildur Haraldsdottir wore a simple white strapless gown with a full skirt and train as she walked on stage. The train however detailed stunning illustrations of her country
Mother nature! Miss Haiti, Mideline Phelizor walked on stage with her country. As she spread her arms she held out a wonderful green landscape picture of the country. She also wore a stunning headdress of ferns
Ready for spring! Miss Costa Rica, Maria Fernanda Rodriguez Avila walked on stage as sultry, hummingbird in deep blues and greens. Her navy leotard, fish net tights and platform heels were all adorned in silver sequins.
At one with nature! Miss Belize, Ashley Lightburn (left) not only wore the jungle on her right shoulder, but also the moon on her left. Her leotard was fashioned with a leopards face that ran down into a half skirt. While Miss Cayman Islands, Chloe Powery-Doxey (right) also wore parts of the local horticulture but also paid homage to the islands extensive water activities by dressing in a sea blue leotard with sequins shimmering like the ocean
The European countries decided to add some sparkle and mystique into their gowns at Miss Universe. Miss Germany, Soraya Kohlmann walked on stage with a fake white cat, dressed as a seductive magician.
Miss Finland, Petra Hamalainen, on the other hand, donned a one shoulder floor length, deep green sequin gown, complete with black feather gloves up to her elbows.
However, Miss France, Floriane Bascou went all out in the nation's colours, in an extravagant outfit that could slot right into Emily in Paris.
Ornamental! Miss Guatemala, Ivana Batchelor chose an extravagant golden masterpiece for her gown. The intricate detailing featured birds, masks and stairways all in exquisite diamonds and jewels
Stylish in sequins! Miss Germany, Soraya Kohlmann (left) walked on stage with a fake white cat, dressed in a sequin leotard with over the knee black boots and matching tailored jacket. Miss Finland, Petra Hamalainen (right) donned a one shoulder floor length, deep green sequin gown, complete with black feather gloves up to her elbows
Emily in Miss Universe Competition! Miss France, Floriane Bascou stepped out in an extravagant feathery number, complete with the Eifel tower on her head
Perfectly poised! Miss Canada, Amelia Tu put on a beautiful ballet display, when she entered the stage in her ruby red tutu and crown
Patriotic! Mouketey Lynette Monalisa Jellym Miss Cameroon, incorporated many elements of her nation into her outfit. She wore a basket on her back, highlighting that there is still work to be done to achieve equality for women in the country
Feathers were also popular at the event in New Orleans; Miss Nigeria, Hannah Iribhogbe walked on stage dressed as a white bird and holding red sculpture of a traditional face.
Miss Argentina, Barbara Cabrera also dressed in white features, with huge plumes coming out of her head dress, while Miss Kyrgyzstan, Altynai Botoyarova wore a floor length white gown for the competition, which was full of tulle ruffles and a delicate feather design from the bodice down to the skirt.
Where some of the women wore white, a symbol of peace, other's used the competition to voice political concerns.
Not only did Miss Paraguay, Lia Aymara Duarte Ashmore wear a lion's head for the competition but her outfit also featured the sign 'Paz Y Justicia', which is a Human Rights Non Governmental Organisation in Latin America.
Miss Armenia, Kristina Ayanian walked on stage in a regal crimson cape and gown, adorned with jewels. She also held a matching shield and in her right hand held a sign saying 'Armenia for the right to live' referencing recent disputes in the country over ownership of land
A mermaid's tale! Miss Brazil, Mia Mamede stepped on stage as a blue and purple mermaid. She also wore a pearl on her head and a shell cape that she could wear up or down
Waving the white flag! Miss Japan, Marybelen Sakamoto wore a long white dress with gold and silver shards around the skirt when she stepped out at the national costume round of the competition
Hear me roar! Not only did Miss Paraguay, Lia Aymara Duarte Ashmore wear a lion's head for the competition but her outfit also featured the sign 'Paz Y Justicia', which is a Human Rights Non Governmental Organisation in Latin America
Traditional! Miss Korea, Hannah Kim wore a traditional hanbok dress, in an array of peach, pink, red and lavender shades. The bodice was a silky burnt orange
Sparkles galore! Miss Nicaragua, Norma Huembes wore a purple jump suit covered from head-to-toe in sequins and beads. Her elaborate cape and train was in the same style and her headdress featured Nicaragua's national flower the sacuanjoche
Full of feathers! Miss Nigeria, Hannah Iribhogbe (left) walked on stage dressed as a white bird and holding red sculpture of a traditional face. Miss Argentina, Barbara Cabrera (right) also dressed in white features, with huge plumes coming out of her head dress
Looking all white! Miss Kyrgyzstan, Altynai Botoyarova wore a floor length white gown for the competition, which was full of tulle ruffles and a delicate feather design from the bodice down to the skirt
Fighting for rights! Miss Armenia, Kristina Ayanian walked on stage in a regal crimson cape and gown, adorned with jewels. She also held a matching shield and in her right hand held a sign saying 'Armenia for the right to live' referencing recent disputes in the country over ownership of land
Going all out! Miss Ghana, Engracia Mofuman wore a golden gown, with a jeweled bodice and on the skirt illustrations of the people of Ghana
A Greek goddess! Surprisingly it isn't the large peacock on Miss Greece, Korina Emmanouilidou's shoulder that you first notice when you see her outfit. But her bodice appears to be a light with flames or power
A display of colour! Miss Aruba, Kiara Arends (left) wore a huge golden sun hat. She opted for a skimpy bikini top decorated with star fish and a bright neon ruffled skirt. Miss Mexico, Irma Cristina Miranda Valenzuela (right) while wearing a mainly black dress coat and sombrero spiced her outfit with many colourful roses embroidered on the back of her dress on the rim of the hat
Precious in pastels: Miss Australia, Monique Riley walked out in a strapless floor length chiffon gown, in an array of cute pastel shades - including blue, green, pink and yellow
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