Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel has some THOUGHTS on allegations her win was “rigged.”
As we reported, over the weekend, the Texas native won the coveted Miss USA 2022 crown during a ceremony at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. Speculation quickly hit social media that the winner had been pre-planned — especially as contestants walked off stage without congratulating her.
Then, Miss Montana Heather Lee O’Keefe and her fellow contestants began speaking out about the pageant online, with Heather claiming “most of the Miss USA contestants feel very strongly that there was favoritism towards Miss Texas USA and we have the receipts to prove it.”
For the first time since the rumors broke, Miss USA is now defending her crown and breaking her silence on the drama! While speaking to E! News’ Erin Lin Rhodes on The Rundown on Wednesday, R’Bonney insisted the pageant “was not rigged,” adding:
“I would never enter any pageant or any competition that I know I would win. I have a lot of integrity.”
Some viewers believed the Miss USA organization may have rigged the race to get better press since Miss Texas USA became the first Filipino-American woman to take home the title. Miss New York Heather Nunez also wrote on her Instagram Story after the fact that she felt “humiliated” in believing she ever had a “fair chance” to win. Meanwhile, Miss Alabama Katelyn Vinson wrote:
“It’s crushing and heartbreaking to have worked so hard towards a goal only to realize you never stood a chance.”
When so many ladies are calling out wrongdoings, it’s hard NOT to believe them! So, what does the winner have to say to the contestants?! While she hasn’t spoken to Heather Lee, who has been most vocal online, she’s “open to talking to her about it.” She continued:
“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. I want to be transparent, and I want everybody to know that there was no unfair advantage and nothing was rigged.”
While the pair haven’t spoken, Heather did take to Instagram on Tuesday with a lengthy video giving other contestants a chance to share their stories. During the chat, she noted the collective walk-off wasn’t planned. She also insisted none of the fellow contestants were “coming against R’Bonney” — their problems lie with the organization. She explained:
“We want to make it very clear that we are not in any way attacking R’Bonney as a person. Nothing against the girl who won Miss USA. We have no hard feelings against her. It is not her fault. These are our issues that we are bringing up with the organization as a whole.”
She also detailed why she was so upset, explaining contestants’ mental health “was put on the back burner” and judges were “totally checked out” during the interview portion. She even pointed out that one of the sponsors for Miss USA is also a sponsor for Miss Texas USA — which R’Bonney won earlier this year — so that’s definitely a bit suspicious!
There have been numerous other allegations fans have dug up to prove the conspiracy theory. One was the claim the sponsor in question had flown R’Bonney to a Cancun resort as special treatment, but R’Bonney insists she paid for her own flight and shot a promo video there as Miss Texas USA. She also clarified a viral photo of Miss USA president Crystle Stewart doing her hair. Many thought it proved shady behavior, but she insists it was taken after she had already won, saying on The Rundown:
“Unfortunately, it looks like that happened maybe before I won but that was my official Miss USA headshot photo shoot after I won.”
For now, R’Bonney is doing her best to hold her head high and focus on the excitement of her new title. She concluded:
“I’m very, very happy and thankful for my win. As Miss USA, I’m just looking forward to advocating for what I love.”
Surely not the issues she wanted to be dealing with upon her win! What do you make of her response?! Do you think something was happening behind the scenes — with or without her realizing it? Let us know (below)!