Former Miss South Carolina Teen USA Lauren Caitlin Upton became an Internet sensation when she delivered a garbled geography answer during the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant. Friday Night Lights‘ Aimee Teegarden, a guest judge, asked why one-fifth of Americans can’t find the U.S. on a map.
“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps,” said Upton, who ultimately was named third runner-up, in an incomprehensible response that included references to “the Iraq” and “Asian countries.”
The below video of her answer went viral. Now, in a new interview, Upton revealed that there were moments in the wake of her gaffe when she was so depressed she thought about committing suicide.
“I definitely went through a period where I was very, very depressed. But I never let anybody see that stuff, except for people I could trust,” Upton told New York magazine in a feature on where 10 viral celebrities are now. “I had some very dark moments where I thought about committing suicide. The fact that I have such an amazing family and friends, it really, really helped.”
Upton began to tear up as she recalled her dark period, saying that she had kept her suffering private. “This is the first time I’ve actually been able to talk about it. It was awful, and it was every single day for a good two years,” she added. “I’ve only spoken to my fiance about how I felt in those moments, truthfully, and my best friend. And, recently, my mom. But, like, my dad doesn’t even know yet.”
Upton said she lost close friends and received vicious criticism in the two years following the incident.
“One group of girls took me to this party at the University of South Carolina, and I walk in, and the entire USC baseball team surrounded me and bashed me with the harshest, meanest comments I had ever heard,” she said. “And 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.”
Now a brunette, the former blonde, who goes by “Caite,” now is getting recognition for something else: her name’s similarity to that of Kate Upton.
She said, “So I’ll go into my auditions and be like, ‘Yes, yes, I know — I’m the other one.’ “