Reigning Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, and her roommate Miss USA, Sarah Rose Sanders, are ready for the upcoming Miss Universe pageant held in Bangkok, Thailand. (Dec. 12) AP
Just days before the 2018 Miss Universe pageant, Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers is apologizing after she caused controversy with comments she made about her competitors.
Videos surfaced of the former Miss Nebraska talking about her international counterparts not being able to speak English. Summers, 24, is seen speaking about Miss Cambodia Rern Sinat and Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie, in one instance mocking Nie with an imitation.
“She’s 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 goes [nods and smiles],” Summers said about Nie before imitating her and laughing. “She’s adorable.”
“Miss Cambodia is here and doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language. Can you imagine?” Summers said in the same video.
“[Miss Australia] Francesca [Hung] said ‘that would be so isolating,’ and I said ‘yes and just confusing all the time,’ ” she said before adding, “Poor Cambodia.”
The videos were reportedly from an Instagram Live session on Miss Colombia Valeria Morales’ account, during which Morales and Hung were also present for the conversation.
USA TODAY has reached out to the Miss Universe Organization for comment. The pageant airs Sunday.
Summers responded directly to the controversy in an Instagram post Thursday.
“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,” Summers said. “My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another. 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.”
Her comments in the videos sparked outrage online, with people on social media going so far as to call Summers “racist” and “bigoted.”
“I wonder if you will still allow Miss USA, Columbia (sic), and Australia to continue in the competition after their racist/ bigoted remarks toward fellow contestant Miss Cambodia,” on Twitter user wrote. “I can’t believe these ladies will be repersenting (sic) their countries!”
Another person on Twitter tagged Miss USA and said, “Your ignorance won’t make you Miss Universe.”
“I think what Miss USA said is absolutely disgusting,” another Twitter user said. “However to say that’s ‘typical American’ is only further normalizing hate. A lot of Americans, including myself, would never condone what Sarah Summers said. To condemn an entire country for one persons words is unfair.”
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