Miss USA runner-up Morgan Romano assumes reign after R’Bonney Gabriel’s Miss Universe win
MANILA, Philippines — Miss USA first runner-up Morgan Romano has officially assumed to the throne following R’Bonney Gabriel’s victory as Miss Universe earlier this month. But some news reports are saying the newly-crowned international beauty queen has “resigned” from her post in the national pageant following the controversy she got embroiled in.
That was not the case. The Filipino-American Gabriel did not have to “resign” as Miss USA, because it has been stipulated under the rules of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) that she has to rescind the national title to a successor in the eventuality of a Miss Universe victory.
Several reports cited the allegations of rigging in the national pageant as the reason behind the turn of events. A number of losing Miss USA contestants had accused then national director Crystle Stewart of favoring Gabriel and giving the eventual winner undue advantage. MUO conducted an investigation and found no proof of any favoritism, but still removed Stewart from her post.
MUO, which handles both the international and national pageants, said Gabriel will no longer continue her duties as Miss USA so she could focus on being Miss Universe. This has always been the practice whenever a representative from the United States wins in the global tilt.
But it was the first time in recent history that the coronation of a new Miss USA who will take over the unfinished reign was conducted on a pageant stage during a competition program.
In grand fashion, Romano took the stage in a shimmery red gown during the preliminary competition of the Miss Alabama USA and Miss Alabama Teen USA pageants. There, she officially received the Miss USA title from the newly-crowned Miss Universe titleholder.
Romano will not participate in the Miss Universe pageant, though, and will only take over the remaining months of the reign as Miss USA. A new winner will be proclaimed later this year, who will compete in the 2023 Miss Universe pageant. Gabriel is technically the global tilt’s 2022 titleholder.
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In the past, MUO only holds a press conference to announce the new queen’s assumption to the Miss USA throne. When Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe in December 2012, her Miss USA first runner-up Nana Meriwether took over the national reign in January 2013.
In 1997, Brandi Sherwood took over as Miss USA when Brooke Lee won as Miss Universe. In 1995, when the late Chelsi Smith captured the Miss Universe crown, Shanna Moakler took over the remainder of the Miss USA reign.
The new Miss USA represented North Carolina in the national competition. The pageant organization said she volunteers at Project Scientist, an “after-school program that provides a high quality STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum to young girls.”
Romano earned a bachelor of science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina in 2020, and is currently an application engineer at RE Mason in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Gabriel is a fashion designer who promotes sustainability in the industry. She will crown her successor as Miss Universe in El Salvador later this year. EDV