beauty pageants

Texas’s R’Bonney Gabriel: Miss USA 2022 wasn’t rigged

R’Bonney Nola Walker Gabriel, 28, of Texas, United States was crowned Miss USA 2022 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada, USA on October 3, 2022. The 50 states and the capital city of the U.S. were represented at the the 1st edition of the national beauty pageant that selects the country’s Miss Universe candidate.

Among the 35 candidates who were unplaced were Heather Lee O’Keefe, 25, of Montana and Heather Nunez, 26, of New York. After losing, O’Keefe took to TikTok to accuse the Miss USA organization of favoritism.


O’Keefe questioned why Miss USA 2022 major sponsor NIZUC Resort & Spa uploaded a video of Gabriel having a “luxury vacation” in the resort less than 24 hours after Miss Texas USA 2022 was crowned Miss USA 2022. Nunez wrote on her personal account’s Instagram Stories in part, “I am lost for words.”

“The way I entered this pageant and gave it every last bit of my heart and soul,” Miss New York USA 2022 continued. “I had limiting beliefs of the outcome and did everything to ignore ALL the signs. We were humiliated, thinking we entered something with a fair chance. However I’m not here to create a sob story, you also don’t have to believe what we are saying.”


On October 6, 2022, Gabriel responded to the allegations when she was featured in an episode of “The Rundown” of E! News. She said she has yet to talk to O’Keefe after the Miss USA 2022 coronation.

“I would love to communicate with her because I think there’s a lot of allegations that are coming up that aren’t true and people are leading to conclusions that just simply aren’t true,” Gabriel said. “I want to be transparent and I want everybody to know that there was no unfair advantage and nothing was rigged.”

Gabriel is the second Miss USA of Filipino descent. The first one was Macel Wilson, 79, who was Miss Hawaii 1962, Miss USA 1962 and Miss Universe 1962 top 15 finalist.

“I would never enter any pageant or any competition that I know I would win,” Gabriel said. “I have a lot of integrity.”

On January 14, 2023, Gabriel will represent the U.S. at Miss Universe 2022 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. She will compete against more than 70 candidates including Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi, 24.

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