A new queen has been crowned Miss USA.
Miss Texas R'Bonney Gabriel walked away a winner during the Oct. 3 competition at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev. Miss North Carolina Morgan Romano was awarded runner-up followed by Miss Nebraska Natalie Pieper.
During the ceremony, 2021 Miss USA titleholder Elle Smith gracefully passed down the crown, marking the end of her reign. Just yesterday, Elle reflected on her time with the title by sharing a message with a photo of her crowning last year.
"The moment that changed my life forever," Elle wrote on Instagram Oct. 2. "Class of 2021, I hope I made you proud."
Now, the sparkling piece is in the hands of R'Bonney—a fashion designer with plenty to be learned about her.
R'Bonney made history as a titleholder by being the first Asian American woman to earn the Miss Texas USA title, per ABC News. She was also the first Filipina-American to hold the title.
Not only does she enjoy pageantry, but also fire dancing as it "calms her mind and lifts her spirit." And it's safe to say she has a real creative side as well.
During the multi-day Miss USA gathering, 51 contestants competed in the Miss USA 2022 Costume Show on Oct. 2. R'Bonney took home the win for that competition (on top of scoring the ultimate prize of becoming Miss USA 2022). But even before stepping on that stage for the costume competition, it seemed the opportunity to design a look that paid homage to Texas was a win in itself for her.
"I was so excited to find out Miss USA had a state costume portion!" she wrote in an Oct. 2 post. "I knew I wanted to be the Texas state flower, a bluebonnet, but with a glamour twist."
The fashionista even designed her Miss USA interview outfit herself, with a special message. “I designed this to pay tribute to my parents,” she wrote on Instagram. "My mom is from Beaumont, TX and my father is from the Philippines. They got married in Manila Philippines. I hand painted the same flower design from my mothers wedding dress onto my sleeves and tied in a traditional Maria Clara Filipina collar shape. I have immense gratitude for the oppoortunites [sic] my parents provided me and wanted to express my love to them through this.”
While the event was a time for celebration, it was also a time for reflection. This year, the beauty pageant honored the late Cheslie Kryst—the Miss USA 2019 winner who died by suicide in January at the age of 30.
In Cheslie's memory, the organization opted to hold the ceremony in the same venue she was crowned Miss USA three years ago.
"In 2019, I had the honor and privilege of judging the Miss USA pageant at the Grand Sierra Resort and Spa in Reno and crowning former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst," Miss USA Organization President Crystle Stewart told E! News in July. "In honor of Cheslie's memory, we found it to be a fitting full circle moment that this year, the 2022 Miss USA pageant will be held at the same venue in Reno, Nevada."
Of the decision, she added, "Not only as a way to keep Cheslie's legacy alive but also to pay homage to the great city of Reno."