ControversyR'bonney Gabriel, Miss USA 2022, Denies Pageant Was "Rigged" in Her Favor

R’bonney Gabriel, Miss USA 2022, Denies Pageant Was “Rigged” in Her Favor

After her defeated rivals took to social media to claim that the pageant was rigged in her favor, the winner of this year’s Miss USA competition declared she had earned the title.

At a lavish event in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, R’Bonney Gabriel became the first Filipina American woman in the pageant’s 70-year history to take home the coveted title. Gabriel, the first Asian American woman to be named Miss Texas, won the competition at the age of 28, making her the oldest competitor to do so.

But when her fellow competitors apparently chose to leave the stage rather than join her in a typical united celebration, her record-breaking victory was immediately marred.

Gabriel’s rivals have opened up on social media in the days since to discuss what they believe to be proof that Miss Texas was given the pageant as a gift.

The majority of the Miss USA finalists firmly believe that Miss Texas USA was given preferential treatment, and Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe stated as much on TikTok.

O’Keefe referred to it in another video as “a bit suspect” since NIZUC Spa, a sponsor of the pageant, uploaded a post of Gabriel receiving care there less than a day after the competition finished.

The Miss USA winner receives spa treatments as part of their award, but O’Keefe also cited a highlight video from the spa’s Instagram story that showed Gabriel there nine weeks before the competition even happened.

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The director of Miss USA, Crystle Stewart, was allegedly seen doing Gabriel’s hair, which led O’Keefe to express concerns about Gabriel’s alleged close friendship with Stewart. O’Keefe stated, “It’s unclear when this picture was taken if it was before or after the tournament.

But I can tell you this is the room where all the competitors were getting their hair and cosmetics done before the competition.

She also claimed in the same video that one of the contest’s sponsors only shared Miss Texas’ Instagram posts throughout the contest “before she even won,” however O’Keefe did acknowledge that the same individual also supported the Miss Texas pageant independently.

miss usa 2022 controversy

In an Instagram story, Miss New York Heather Nunez expressed her humiliation. Miss Alabama Katelyn Vinson wrote: “It’s shattering and upsetting to have worked so hard towards a goal just to know you never stood a chance.” Other contestants have expressed their frustration online.

Despite the accusations, Gabriel went out on Friday to maintain that she was the legitimate winner. Gabriel said on Friday that she “would never attend any pageant or any competition that I know I would win” and that she would be willing to talk to O’Keefe about the accusations.

Gabriel stated, “I think there are a lot of claims coming up that aren’t real, and people are just jumping to conclusions that aren’t true. I would love to talk to her about it. “I want to be open and honest, and I want everyone to know that there was no unfair advantage or rigged system in place.”

The spa, which had sponsored the Miss Texas pageant, had paid for her own flight out for a promotional video, but it hadn’t been made public until after she had been elected Miss USA, according to Gabriel. She continued by saying that Crystle Stewart was in the photo with her the morning after she had won the competition.

She added that the other contestants weren’t able to join her on stage for her triumphal moment due to timing concerns, and that “when I went back to the girls, they all hugged me.”

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