James Wade/The CW
News flash to the Jays: You could have let McKey in on the secret that you "knew all along."
Though Jay Manuel and J. Alexander told me early on that the winner was "obvious" and that they "predicted she'd win from day one," McKey herself told me a very different and "terrifying" story this morning after being crowned America's Next Top Model last night...
"I had no idea." This is what McKey said of the Jays' insistence that they knew she'd win all along. "I was actually really surprised to hear that from you. I read that and I was like, 'Oh my goodness. Wow.' "
Turns out, neither the Jays nor Tyra nor any of the Top Model judges gave her any indication that she was considered the frontrunner throughout the cycle. "Honestly, I struggled a lot in my first few shoots, and they weren't afraid to tell me. Like, 'Oh, McKey, you're not doing well right now.' And I'm like, 'Oh, I better pick it up!' "
McKey admitted that the pressure of the competition wrought havoc on her emotions and on her confidence throughout the experience. "When I went into the house, I was just so overwhelmed by the girls around me," McKey revealed. "And I was convinced I was going home right before we were going to Amsterdam." She called the experience "terrifying."
She even feared for her mental health at one point. "I was freaking out at the second CoverGirl commercial. I almost had a nervous breakdown. They only show a little bit of it, but Christian was fixing my makeup and I was like, 'Christian, I'm freaking out right now. I might have a nervous breakdown. I haven't had a nervous breakdown in forever. I'm going crazy. Why am I here?' Christian just told me, 'Relax, you know your lines.' "
Jim DeYonker/Pottle Productions Inc.
And right he was, 'cause McKey nailed that shoot—and the final runway walk—securing her place as the big winner over "editorial," "mall girl" Samantha.
I also talked with runner-up Samantha this morning, who told me: "In the very beginning of the competition, I told myself, if it comes down to the bottom two, or the last two girls of the competition, I'd want to be with McKey. She's really pretty; she's really awesome. Of course, I would've like a different outcome, but she's amazing, and the way she handles herself and what she did, she deserved what she accomplished."
As for Analeigh, she was in good spirits this morning and told me this of her plans: "I'm definitely continuing modeling, I'm so excited to start working. Hopefully I'll be in contact with some agencies this week or the next and kind of take it from there."
What do you think of McKey's big win? Was it as obvious as the Jays said it was? Who should have won?