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“Miss South Carolina Teen USA” video refers to a YouTube clip featuring Lauren Caitlin Upton, an American fashion model and the winner of South Carolina’s state pageant for 2007 Miss Teen USA. In 2007, Upton gained international notoriety after giving a highly convoluted and incoherent response to a question asked during the pageant contest.
Lauren Upton was chosen as Miss South Carolina Teen USA in November 2006 and the pageant was held on August 24th, 2007 in Pasadena, California. During the Q&A segment of the contest, Upton was given the following question by Friday Night Lights actress Aimee Teegarden:
Q: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?
A: 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 and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, 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., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our [children].
The Miss Teen USA 2007 pageant was nationally televised by NBC, reaching approximately 4.3 million viewers across the country. The broadcast event matched NBC’s highest 18-49 rating in this time period in three months and the highest placement for the one month period, according to Nielsen Media Research.
With such high level of media exposure, online reaction to Upton’s gaffe came almost immediately through the social networking site Facebook. Following the closing ceremony of the event, YouTuber IRamzayI uploaded the taped segment onto the video-sharing hubsite. The video quickly surpassed 10 million views within the first months and it was recorded as the site’s most viewed video for the month of September 2007. Since its debut, the video has accrued over 51 million views in four years.
Shortly following the YouTube upload, a large number of response video began flooding in from the viewers, many of them criticizing her on-air blooper as strange and even “grammarless” while others conveyed more sympathetic messages in her defense. In the following days and weeks, more elaborate parodies, remixes and tribute videos began to appear. As of August 2011, the original YouTube clip has spawned nearly 500 response videos.
On the following Tuesday, August 28th, Upton made appearance on NBC’s Today Show during which the host Ann Curry gave the Miss Teen USA South Carolina another opportunity to formulate a new response to the same question. Upton replied:
“Personally, my friends and I, we know exactly where the United States is on our map. I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t. If the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more emphasis on geography in our education so people will learn how to read maps better.”
Perhaps indicative of the video’s popularity, the YouTube copy of NBC’s Today Show segment received over 4 million views in the span of four years.
Upton also attended the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, where she performed a self-parody of her famous response. She also appeared on an episode of the TLC series King of the Crown and on a 2009 Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 as a “Web Redemption.”
In May 2008, Upton appeared in Weezer’s Internet culture-themed music video “Pork and Beans” as herself; she can be seen in the background blending “Maps” in a Blendtec blender, a reference to yet another popular YouTube series called Will It Blend?.
In September 2009, Upton appeared in a television advertisement for Wonderful Pistachios, as part of their “Get Crackin’” campaign. In the commercial, she wears a pageant gown and a sash reading “Miss Wonderful,” and says: “I personally believe that cracking shells will help Americans who don’t have maps [pause] to build a better future.”
Search queries for both “Lauren Caitlin Upton” and “Miss Teen South Carolina” peaked sharply in August of 2007. After a brief few months, search traffic for for both terms have settled down to a certain level of equilibrium. However, what’s notable is that the there is still a heavy corresponding action between the two trends, signifying that despite the fact that there are new Miss Teen South Carolina’s crowned each year, Lauren Caitlin Upton is the first that comes to mind.