Miss Philippines Catriona Gray is crowned Miss Universe 2018

BANGKOK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Catriona Gray from the Philippines was crowned Miss Universe on Monday, the fourth time the Southeast Asian country has won the international beauty pageant.

Gray, a 24-year-old Filipino-Australian model, won the title in the Thai capital Bangkok where the pageant included for the first time a transgender contestant.

"My heart is filled with so much gratitude. There were moments of doubt where I felt overwhelmed and I felt the pressure," said Gray, who wore a red and orange dress that was inspired by Mount Mayon, a volcano that erupted this year.

Gray was asked during the contest about her views on legalizing marijuana and replied that she supported it for medical uses.

After she was crowned, Gray told reporters the question was "definitely relevant" and "an active topic," in an apparent reference to the war on drugs in the Philippines that has killed thousands of Filipinos and caused international alarm.

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Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers celebrates after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers celebrates after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers is crowned by Miss USA 2017 Kara McCullough, Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and Miss Teen USA 2018 Hailey Colborn after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers competes in the swimsuit portion of the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers competes in the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
SHREVEPORT, LA - MAY 21: Miss Nebraska Sarah Rose Summers poses for a photo after winning the 2018 Miss USA Competition at George's Pond at Hirsch Coliseum on May 21, 2018 in Shreveport, Louisiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
2018 MISS USA: Winner: Miss Nebraska, Sarah Rose Summers (C) is named MISS USA at the 2018 MISS USA Competition airing Monday, May 21 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT on FOX). (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Sarah Rose Summers is seen on May 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visit build series to discuss 'Miss USA' at Build Studio on May 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visits the Build Series at Build Studio on May 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: Miss Teen USA 2018 Hailey Colburn (L) and Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers are seen in SoHo on May 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visits the SiriusXM Studios on May 24, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: Miss Teen USA Hailey Colborn (L) and Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers take their first double-decker ride In New York City on July 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Ride of Fame)
US model Sarah Rose Summers attends the NYFW Kick-Off Party hosted by E! Entertainment, ELLE & IMG at The Pool, The Seagram Building on September 5, 2018 New York City. (Photo by Steven FERDMAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read STEVEN FERDMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06: Sarah Rose Summers attends the Nicole Miller Spring 2019 After Party at Acme on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Sarah Rose Summers attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Sarah Rose Summers attends the 2018 US Weekly Most Stylish New Yorkers at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge on September 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Ms. USA Sarah Rose Summers attends the 2018 Global Citizen Festival: Be The Generation in Central Park on September 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - OCTOBER 15: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers visits Hallmark's 'Home & Family' at Universal Studios Hollywood on October 15, 2018 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Sarah Rose Summers attends the 2018 World of Children Awards Ceremony and Benefit on November 1, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for World Of Children Awards)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (L) and Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers are seen in Midtown on November 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers is seen in Midtown on November 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
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Gray said during the pageant that working in a Manila slum had taught her to find beauty in difficult situations.

"If I could teach people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children would have a smile on their face," she said.

Miss South Africa, Tamaryn Green, 24 was the first runner-up, followed by Miss Venezuela, Sthefany Gutiérrez, 19.

Miss Spain, Angela Ponce, 27, made history as the first transgender contestant in the 66-year-old pageant.

Gray is the fourth Filipina to win Miss Universe and the second in three years. The pageant was shown live on the country's biggest television network and dominated social media.

Salvador Panelo, spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte, said her win would put the country on the world map for its "beauty and elegance."

"In her success, Miss Philippines has shown to the world that women in our country have the ability to turn dreams into reality through passion, diligence, determination and hard work," he said.

The Philippines previously won Miss Universe titles in 2015, 1973 and 1969.

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