Mixed-heritage Filipina winners of Miss Universe, from R'Bonney Gabriel to Pia Wurtzbach

The US has taken home the crown the most number of times, with nine wins

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Fashion designer and Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel made history on Saturday night to become the first Filipino-American to win the Miss Universe crown. Ahead of her win, Gabriel was also the first Filipino-American to win Miss USA as well as the Miss Texas crown.

The Houston native, 28, is only the third mixed-heritage Filipina to be crowned Miss Universe, one of the longest-running and most-watched beauty competitions in the world.

The US has won Miss Universe the most number of times, with nine wins, while the Philippines has won the crown four times.

R'Bonney Gabriel, Miss Universe 2022

Born to a Filipino father and an American mother in San Antonio, Texas, Gabriel is a model and fashion designer who runs her own label, R'Bonney Nola.

She is 170cm tall and graduated from the University of North Texas.

Following her Miss USA win in October, she said she now feels a “big responsibility” to share her multicultural background and empower others to embrace their identities.

"My dad moved to America from the Philippines on a college scholarship with about $20 in his pocket. He wanted to pave a new life for himself. He met my mom in Texas, who is a countrywoman from Beaumont,” she told ABC News. “I'm a very proud Filipina-Texan."

Gabriel has always been interested in pageantry.

Her journey with beauty contests began when she took part in the Miss Friendswood competition in 2021. Gabriel is from Friendswood, a city on the outskirts of Houston. She then participated in Miss Texas 2021, finishing second after winner Victoria Hinojosa.

Not one to give up easily, Gabriel participated again in Miss Texas 2022 in July and won, earning her a spot in the Miss USA pageant.

At Miss Universe 2022 on Saturday, Gabriel went up against another mixed-heritage Filipina, Celeste Cortesi, who was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2022 in April.

Cortesi, 24, is Filipino-Italian. She was raised in Italy before moving to the Philippines five years ago to pursue a career in pageantry.

Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018

Australian-Filipina Catriona Gray won the Miss Universe crown in 2018.

Born in Queensland to an Australian father and a Filipino mother, Gray moved to Manila after high school to pursue a career in modelling.

Like other pageant queens before her, Gray participated in a number of beauty contests before her big Miss Universe win. After she was crowned Miss World Philippines in 2016, she went on to represent her country at the Miss World contest, another major competition, where she placed in the top five.

Deciding that her journey in the world of pageantry was far from over, Gray participated in the long-running Binibining Pilipinas, the competition that sends the Philippines's representatives to the Big Four international beauty pageants, and beat 39 other contestants to the title.

At the Miss Universe pageant, Gray, who was then 24, was the front-runner throughout the competition, winning the judges and fans with her easy charm and well-thought-out answers.

Gray won the title over 93 contestants from across the world, becoming the fourth Filipina to win Miss Universe.

Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015

Wurtzbach's win in 2015 was historic in many ways. She brought the Miss Universe crown home after 42 years, a long spell for her country known for its penchant for beauty pageants. Then there was that infamous flub when host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia as the winner, upon which the crown was awkwardly removed from her head and placed on Wurtzbach's.

Born in Stuttgart, Germany, to a German father and Filipino mother, Wurtzbach was only 9 when her parents separated. She started modelling and taking part in talent shows at age 11 to support her family, which included her mother and younger sister, after they moved to Manila soon after the separation. She first took part in Binibining Pilipinas in 2013, placing second, and participated again in 2014, but only placed in the top 15.

The 2015 Binibining Pilipinas was her third attempt. Firmly believing that she had the potential to go far, Wurtzbach beat 33 other hopefuls to the title that year, winning the chance to represent her country at Miss Universe.

At the Miss Universe pageant where 80 countries were represented, Wurtzbach, who was then 26, was a crowd favourite right from the start and scored high with the judges.

Owing to Harvey's botched announcement, however, Wurtzbach was unable able to make her winner's walk as Miss Universe, as the live broadcast was suddenly cut after the host admitted his mistake.

She was able to finally do her walk as the winner during her homecoming celebrations in the Philippines, a few weeks following her win.

"42 years of drought and now it finally reigns," Wurtzbach wrote on Instagram soon after her win.

Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of the evening gown round at Miss Universe 2022

Updated: January 16, 2023, 12:15 PM