Miss Universe 2022 winner R'Bonney Gabriel visits New York's Empire State Building

'I feel so honoured,' she says on ceremonial trip

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The first Filipino American to win the Miss Universe title, R'Bonney Gabriel, visited New York's Empire State Building on Tuesday.

Ms Gabriel was named the winner of the 71st annual Miss Universe pageant at the weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the first Miss USA to take home the crown in a decade.

In making the ceremonial trip to the New York skyscraper, Ms Gabriel was humble about the myriad advances she represents.

“I feel so honoured,” she said.

At 28 years old, she is the oldest Miss Universe in the competition's history.

The official Empire State Building Twitter account tweeted a photo of her in the building, with a caption reading: “Two icons in the same place.”

A follow-up tweet on the account said that “the other icon is me”, jokingly referencing the building itself.

She told Reuters of her connection to her father's ancestral homeland: “I feel like I'm carrying all the Filipinos with me on my shoulders and I just want to represent how amazing we are.

“It's just a time to celebrate. Filipinos, Americans, Asian Americans.”

In an interview with Texas media, Ms Gabriel said her father came to the US as a student on a scholarship with $20 in his pocket.

Ms Gabriel is a fashion designer from Houston, Texas, and has interned for Nicole Miller.

In promoting her own line, R'Bonney Nola, Ms Gabriel makes sure to focus on eco-friendly designs.

“I'll be wearing a lot of upcycled and recycled pieces during my reign just to show the world that you can get creative and wear sustainable pieces in the fashion industry,” she said.

“We can make a lot of change with that.”

Ms Gabriel beat 84 other contestants for the title of Miss Universe.

The first runner-up was Amanda Dudamel of Venezuela.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: January 18, 2023, 6:31 AM