Miss USA sorry for mocking Miss Universe contenders’ English
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Miss USA sorry for mocking Miss Universe contenders’ English

After firestorm on social media, Sarah Rose Summers says she never intended to insult Miss Cambodia or Miss Vietnam

Sarah Rose Summers of the United States competes in the swimsuit competition during the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok on December 13, 2018. (Lillian SUWANRUMPHA/AFP)
Sarah Rose Summers of the United States competes in the swimsuit competition during the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok on December 13, 2018. (Lillian SUWANRUMPHA/AFP)

Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers publicly apologized on Instagram on Friday for mocking two Miss Universe contestants’ English-language abilities, after suffering intense criticism and being labeled as a xenophobe on social media.

Summers, 24, said Wednesday during an Instagram live stream which she broadcast to her followers that Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie was “so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she [nods and smiles],” CNN reported.

The US contestant, who was attending the Miss Universe pageant in Thailand, later in the video spoke of Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat, and said that the East Asian competitor “doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language.”

Speaking to Miss Colombia, Valeria Morales and Miss Australia, Francesca Hung, Summers added that “Francesca (Miss Australia) said that would be so isolating and I said yes, and just confusing all the time, poor Cambodia.”

Summers’ words sparked a deluge of criticism on social media, with some saying the US contestant’s statements were “xenophobic” and “condescending.”

In response to the criticism, Summers posted a photo of her and other contestants with a caption explaining that she believed Miss Universe was “an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other’s cultures, life experiences, and views.”

“In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize,” she added.

“My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another,” she added. “I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H’Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me.”

Meanwhile, Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie told CNN in an interview that she was sure Summers “didn’t mean anything” in her comments regarding the contestants’ English-language abilities.

“Everyone in this competition, myself included, loves and respects one another,” she said.

“When she knew about my difficulties with [the English] language, she took an interest and showed me love. That’s why she knows about that. Thank you Miss USA for taking care of me, showing me love, and helping me recently,” H’Hen Nie told CNN.

At the same time, Miss Cambodia reposted Summers’ Instagram photo with fellow contestants, adding the caption, “I speak the language of love, respect and understanding.”

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