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R’Bonney Gabriel is the new Miss Universe. Her name has not ceased to be in the eye of the hurricane and since she won Miss USA, Gabriel has faced controversy after she was accused of winning the pageant due to special treatment by the organizers.
“The current allegations are based on perception, and not the truth. I would never want to enter a competition that was rigged,” Gabriel told The Washington Post in a statement provided by Miss USA at the time.
The situation generated controversy and prompted the Miss Universe Organization to investigate the allegations. In a statement to state directors, obtained by The Post in October, the Miss USA group said its corporation was cooperating with investigators.
“Other Miss USA contestants said they had been muted and ignored during the investigation. In a statement posted to Instagram on Jan. 5 and signed Miss USA Class of 2022, they said that they were waiting for results,” The Post reviewed.
Despite the scandal, Gabriel represented the United States in the 71st edition of Miss Universe, which was held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans and where 84 candidates representing their countries participated. Gabriel is the first Filipino-American to represent the United States in an international beauty pageant.
When it seemed that the issue had been overcome, the controversy returned. After participating in the international contest, social media users said they were not happy with the result because, in the opinion of many, Miss Venezuela (who became vice-queen) and Miss Dominican Republic (2nd finalist) had a better participation and the winner should have been one of the two Hispanics.
The favorite to be Miss Universe
Mainly, it has been said that the winner should have been Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel Newman. In fact, after the criticisms spread, a video went viral -which was later removed- of the pageant’s new creative director, Tawn Chatchavalvong. Allegedly, Chatchavalvong said “she is the queen” while the Venezuelan was parading in a ball gown.
It all happens just when the Miss Universe has new owners. Trans businesswoman Anne Jakrajutatip, who is the head of JKN Global Group, bought the pageant for 20 million dollars and this is the first edition under this new management.
But the perception that the one who should have won was Miss Venezuela did not remain only among the users of social networks. TMZ magazine, specialized in entertainment issues, highlighted that Amanda Dudamel Newman had a great participation during the final night.
“Dudamel impressed throughout the broadcast, especially with her heartfelt answers on certain questions. Her outfits were also less ridiculed than the ones Gabriel wore, particularly in the costume category,” TMZ reported.
However, neither Gabriel nor the Miss Universe Organization have remained silent and called the accusations “absurd”.
“Instead of focusing on unfounded statements, we will continue to shine a light on global women’s empowerment, inclusiveness, diversity, and transformational leadership,” the organization added.
In one of her first interviews, which was granted to People magazine, Gabriel said she is prepared to face anything. She also mentioned that she is not the first to experience what she called “the hate of the Internet”.
“This is an opportunity to show the world [that] even when negativity comes your way — I think we all experience a little internet hate here and there — to not let it get to you. And I think that this is a great opportunity for me to set an example,” she commented.
Finally, Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel Newman, said she is happy with the result and wished success to the new Miss Universe. “I did not feel that we lost. I was happy from the first moment and when they announced the result I thought: ‘this is something bigger’. I feel that in reality, my triumph has not yet arrived and that it goes beyond”, highlighted the Venezuelan beauty queen.