Miss South Carolina Teen USA Explains Her TV Meltdown
"I didn't do anything wrong," she says of her rambling answer to a geography question
Don’t know much about … geography?
Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, whose mangled response to a pageant question has become an Internet sensation, will have a second chance to answer it on Tuesday morning’s Today show.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she told South Carolina’s The State newspaper. “I wasn’t expecting [the question]. I lost my train of thought.”
She added she “completely misunderstood” the question, which she’ll get a second stab at on Today.
The show’s host, Mario Lopez, tells PEOPLE he wanted to help her, but was told that he couldn’t talk to the contestants while they were answering questions.
“It was a very intense moment. It’s live TV. You don’t know what the question is until you get up there. And I believe that she misunderstood it. She went down the wrong road and couldn’t figure out how to get back to the right one,” he says. “I felt really badly for her.”
The beauty contestant’s video on YouTube has received more than 2 million hits thanks to her amazingly off-the-mark answer at Friday night’s pageant, when she was queried about why Americans are so bad at geography.
Specifically, she was asked why one-fifth of Americans can’t find the United States 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,” she ventured.
During her meandering response, she also tossed in out-of-the-blue references to “the Iraq” and “Asian countries” and their need for the support of the American educational system in identifying the United States on the map.
Upton is described as a varsity athlete and student leader at Lexington High School, where she graduated in June with a 3.5 GPA.
Despite the on-camera gaffe, Upton finished as third runner-up.