Most people remember Caitlin Upton, the blonde South Carolina contestant in the 2007 Miss Teen USA competition, for her unfortunate, rambling response when asked at the pageant why she believed a fifth of Americans couldn’t point out the U.S. on a map.
This was her answer: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps,” she said.
“And, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future.”
The whole thing was captured in this 48-second YouTube clip, which has clocked up 63,854,961 views since August 2007. Upton became an internet sensation and was mocked mercilessly online.
Now, the 26-year-old has revealed she considered committing suicide following the fallout.
“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. I had some very dark moments where I thought about committing suicide,” she told New York magazine in a wide-ranging piece about what happens to people after they become internet famous.
“I lost a lot of close friends over it — people I’d been friends with since I was 10, people I grew up playing soccer with.
“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 continued: “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. That’s the kind of stuff people would say to me for two years.”
Upton says she even refrained from talking to her family and friends about the incident.
“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,” she said.
“The fact that I have such an amazing family and friends, it really, really helped. 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.”
Upton has since died her hair brown and doesn’t get recognized that often.
“The past few years, going brunette, I have not had any recognition for the Miss Teen USA Pageant at all.
“But I also get recognized for having a similar name to Kate Upton. So I’ll go into my auditions and be like, ‘Yes, yes, I know — I’m the other one’,” she said.