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Amid global tensions and cheating allegations, the US of A finally has a new queen: Morgan Romano was given the title of Miss USA over the weekend during a ceremony at Auburn University.
Romano, 28, was formerly Miss North Carolina before taking over the entire country from R’Bonney Gabriel, who was elevated to Miss Universe after a TENSE competition last fall that ended with allegations of rigging, protests, and finger-pointing from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
And they say this is nothing more than a beauty contest!
“Heart full of gratitude. I’m all yours, USA,” Romano wrote Saturday on Instagram.
Morgan Romano replaces R’Bonney Gabriel as Miss USA
It’s been a WILD ride for these contestants over the past few months.
It all started last October, when Gabriel – who hails from Texas – became the first Filipina American to win Miss USA. Romano, meanwhile, was first runner-up.
Anyway, some folks were NOT happy with final results, and many contestants walked off stage and said the whole thing was rigged.
For example, Miss Montana – Heather Lee O’Keefe – spent the following week on TikTok laying out the reasons why the pageant was fixed, including R’Bonney being featured on a plastic surgery spa’s social media feed receiving treatments.
Claims of pageant president Crystle Stewart doing her hair backstage and helping her prepare soon followed.
“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,” O’Keefe said in one of her numerous TikTok videos dealing with the drama.
Fast-forward a bit, and Miss Universe Organization announced that it had suspended Miss Brand Corp, the organizers of the Miss USA pageant, while also launching an investigation.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, R’Bonney than really stuck it to all the haters by winning the Miss Universe pageant a few weeks ago, edging Venezuelan Amanda Dudamel.
That, of course, didn’t sit well with president Nicolás Maduro, who claimed the crown was “stolen.”
Critics were skeptical of Gabriel’s victory, pointing out that JKN Global Group, which owns Miss Universe, also owns Miss USA.
Emily Austin, a judge at the most recent pageant, fired back at the critics – including Maduro – in a scathing interview with Fox News Digital.
“It’s so funny because Maduro is literally an illegitimate president and cheated his way there. It’s like when a thief calls another thief out,” she said.
All right, we all caught up? Good.
Back to Romano, who is your newest Miss USA amid all this hullabaloo. She’s a 24-year-old chemical engineer from Concord, N.C., a South Carolina grad, and now the fourth former Miss North Carolina to be named Miss USA.
That, by the way, is a record for any state.
Give ’em hell, Morgan!