R'Bonney Gabriel from the US was crowned Miss Universe 2022 on Sunday, 15 January. India's Divita Rai, who had secured a position in the top 16, couldn't make it further in the beauty pageant held in New Orleans. The other two countries among the top 3 contenders were Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
The beauty pageant had contestants from over 84 nations competing for the coveted title. But Gabriel's heartwarming response to the final question was what gave her the winning edge in the competition.
Here, take a look:
One of the questions that Gabriel was asked was, "Miss Universe recently made an inclusive change, allowing mothers and married women to compete this year. What’s another change you’d like to see and why?"
Gabriel's answer, which is now doing the rounds on the internet, was, "For me, I would like to see an age increase because I am 28 years old and that is the oldest age to compete. I think it’s a beautiful thing. My favourite quote is 'If not now, then when?' As a woman, I believe that age does not define us. It’s not tomorrow; it’s yesterday, but it’s now. The time is now that you can go after what you want."
As per the official website of Miss Universe, Gabriel is the first Filipino-American to win the prestigious crown and wishes to represent Asian Americans.
On the other hand, Rai, 25, was born in Mangaluru, Karnataka. She had previously won the Miss Diva Universe pageant and came in third place in 2021, losing to India's Harnaaz Sandhu, who had also won the 70th edition of Miss Universe the year before.
For the National Costume round, Rai wore a magnificent golden ensemble, personifying the 'Sone ki Chidiya' (The Golden Bird). Designed by Abhishek Sharma, the costume was inspired by the "ethereal portrayal of India as the golden bird, which is a symbol of the wealth of our rich cultural heritage along with the spiritual essence of living in harmony with diversity."
Besides Sandhu, actors Sushmita Sen (1994) and Lara Dutta (2000) are the only two other Indians who took home the Miss Universe crown.
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