She posed her way to the finale and beat out Samantha to become the winner of America’s Next Top Model. Now, McKey Sullivan, the 19-year-old from Lake Forest, Ill., is ready for “a busy modeling career.” But first, the self-described “health nut” opens up to PEOPLE about why she’s a daddy’s girl, her cage-fighter boyfriend (who’s really a “big dork”) and her intense workout regimen. — Alyssa Shelasky
You’ve known you were the winner for a couple months now.Yeah, I couldn’t tell anyone! I’d try to put it in the back of my brain, but then I’d get a goofy smile on my face and everyone would be like, “What’s that for?” But I didn’t tell anyone — not my family, not my boyfriend, no one.
You’re incredibly fit. What’s the secret?I’m a health nut. I don’t like the texture of meat, so I don’t eat it. I do lots of high protein diets — body builder diets — but I don’t do it for bulk, I do to stay toned. I play tennis for college; I play water polo and I box. I train with my boyfriend as often as I can. I try to exercise five times a week. I’m always doing cardio, but I really like weight resistance. I could probably be a personal trainer but I can’t take that role over — that’s for my boyfriend because he’s certified.
Are you always so disciplined?No way! My biggest weakness is ice cream and movies are for sour gummy worms. I also get cravings for fruit and will eat an entire basket and then just bounce off the walls for hours.
Your personal life is a mystery to your fans. Tell us about the real McKey.I have two little brothers, 17 and 15. They’re such beautiful, charming boys. I’m hoping to set them up with some modeling agencies in New York. I have an older sister who is the coolest, but she set the bar really high for me. She’s really smart and successful. She’s our bright little star. But my daddy is my biggest role model. He was born four months premature, blind, deaf and mute. He worked on his vision and it improved a little. And even though he’s legally deaf, his mom taught him to speak with vocal vibrations. He’s always put forth so much effort and he tries so hard with everything he touches. I look up to him so much. And my mama, she’s awesome. She’s not your typical housewife — she works, she plays sports, she’s really cool.
Tell us about your boyfriend, who you missed so much.He’s a professional cage-fighter, so he’s all about the martial arts and he’s doing really well. We train together. I’m his corner person. We’re a super-team together. He wants to be an ultimate fighter. Aside from that, he’s just a 22-year-old big dork. He loves his video games and he’s a movie freak. His name is Sam.
Now that you’re a Top Model, when might you become a Top Wife?Getting married is probably a while off because he’s got so much a head of him with cage-fighting and hopefully I’ve got a busy modeling career ahead of me.
Who’s your modeling role model?I want a career that’s more like Twiggy‘s. She’s really, really classy, but she defined the fashion business in her own way. She took ageless pictures. Everyone thinks I look like Milla Jovovich, which I don’t see!
What’s your dream campaign?I really love Comme des Gar ons. I would die to walk in their fashion show.
What’s the history of your name?I went by Brit before the show. But no model is named something like Brit. They’re named, “Giselle,” so McKey was a pen name I used because my mother liked the name McKenzie originally for me and this was a version of that.
Anything else we should know about you?I crazy, big-time adore animals. It was my passion all growing up. I wanted to be a vet. I have three dogs and three cats. My mommy just bought me a puppy to bring around the world with me, so I never get lonely. I rescued a tailless a cat before the show. I’ll bring anything home really. Jim DeYonker/Pottle Productions/CWTV