Miss Philippines Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe 2018 late Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand, after defeating 93 other candidates from different countries. She succeeded Demi Leigh Nel-Peters from South Africa.

Gray is the fourth Filipino to bring home the title, which was earlier won by Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in 1973, and Pia Wurtzbach in 2015. The 24-year-old was born in Australia and earned a Certificate in Music Theory from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do martial arts that she earned at the age of 12. 

Gray was among the most sought-after candidates of this year's Miss Universe and also a social media favorite. During the Miss Universe preliminaries, she impressed the judges and social media with her iconic slow-mo twirl, also known as the “lava walk,” ABS-CBN News reported. Hours before being crowned the winner, Gray achieved a social media milestone with 1 million followers on Instagram.

The Filipino first joined and won a beauty pageant (Little Miss Philippines in Sydney) at the age of five. She moved to the Philippines after turning 18, following which she participated in the Miss World Philippines competition and won the title in 2016.

Catriona Gray Catriona Gray of the Philippines smiles after being crowned the new Miss Universe 2018 on Dec. 17, 2018 in Bangkok. Photo: Getty Images/Lillian Suwanrumpha

In the final round, Gray beat up runner-up Miss South Africa Tamaryn Green and the 2nd runner-up, Miss Venezuela Sthefany Gutiérrez, to win the top spot.

"A great travel buddy and definitely not a 'scaredy cat,' Catriona is always game for heart racing adventures," Gray's bio reads on the Miss Universe website. "This model is openly passionate about her love for Filipino dishes including adobo, balut, and the sweetest mangoes in the world. Catriona is an HIV/AIDS advocate at Love Yourself PH, and volunteers as a Teacher's Assistant to the students of Young Focus NGO. Catriona hopes to make her country proud at this year's Miss Universe competition."

Catriona Gray Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray of the Philippines competes in the swimsuit competition during the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok on Dec. 13, 2018. Photo: Getty Images/Lillian Suwamrumpha

The pageant was hosted once again by Steve Harvey and model Ashley Graham. This winner of this year's beauty pageant was chosen by an all-female panel of judges, which included Colombian-American CEO Liliana Gil Valletta, Janaye Ingram, fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, former Miss Universe winners Michelle McLean and Bui Simon, Iman Oubou, and Richelle Singson-Michael.

Catriona Gray, Miss Philippines 2018 Catriona Gray, Miss Philippines 2018 poses on stage during the 2018 Miss Universe national costume presentation in Chonburi province on Dec. 10, 2018. Photo: Getty Images/Lillian Suwanrumpha

Earlier this week, the competition was surrounded by controversy after Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers made some comments about the English of a Miss Universe contestant. She spoke about Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie and Miss Cambodia Rern Sinat, who do not speak English, with fellow pageant contestants Miss Australia Francesca Hung and Miss Colombia Valeria Morales. 

“She pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and goes [nods and smiles],” Summers said. “She’s adorable.” 

Following the comments, Summers was slammed by her fans on social media who said her comments came off ignorant. She later issued an apology on Thursday on her Instagram page.

"@MissUniverse is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other's cultures, life experiences, and views. We all come from different backgrounds and can grow alongside one another," she wrote. "In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize. My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H’Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me."