Tuesday 23 January 2018

Former Miss Teen USA contestant Caitlin Upton speaks about infamous pageant gaffe eight years later

Caitlin Upton at Miss Teen USA 2007
Caitlin Upton at Miss Teen USA 2007
Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina answering a question from host Mario Lopez, left, during the interview portion of the Miss Teen USA 2007 competition
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Caitlin Upton's 2007 Q&A round at the Miss Teen USA pageant has gone down in infamy as one of the biggest gaffes ever.

In the early days of internet celebrity, she became an overnight sensation after giving an unforgettable answer to a geography question.

The then 18-year-old from South Carolina was asked her thoughts on why one fifth of Americans couldn't point to the United States on a map and she then responded in a rambling manner.

“I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like such as…I believe they should…our education over here in the US should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up a future.”

Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina answering a question from host Mario Lopez, left, during the interview portion of the Miss Teen USA 2007 competition
Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina answering a question from host Mario Lopez, left, during the interview portion of the Miss Teen USA 2007 competition

The controversy didn't hold her back as she still cracked the top five in the pageant.

Nearly 70 million people have watched the video and shared it online, but Upton told New York Magazine she became severely depressed after due to the backlash afterwards and even received death threats.

"I definitely went through a period where I was very, very depressed," she said. "But I never let anybody see that stuff, except for people I could trust. I had some very dark moments where I thought about committing suicide.

She later explained she was "overwhelmed" by the pressure and the audience. She said she was bullied for two years after the fact and was targeted by a group of girls at her college.

"Somebody once put a letter in my parents’ mailbox about how my body was going to be eaten alive by ants and burned in a freak fire. And then it said, in all caps, GO DIE CAITE UPTON, GO DIE FOR YOUR STUPIDITY'."

She is now working as a real estate agent and dabbles in acting.

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