Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers apologized after mocking Miss Cambodia and Miss Vietnam for not being able to speak English. Summers has issued an apology after controversial comments she made about Miss Vietnam and Miss Cambodia’s English-speaking abilities went viral online.
“[Miss Universe] is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other’s cultures, life experiences, and views. We all come from different backgrounds and can grow alongside one another,” Summers said in a post on Instagram on 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,” she continued.
“My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another,” Summers 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.”
Summers drew ire online on Wednesday after she shared her thoughts on Rern Sinat, Miss Cambodia, and H’Hen Nie, Miss Vietnam, and their English-language skills in an Instagram Live video alongside Miss Colombia Valeria Morales.
“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 …” Summers, a 24-year-old pageant contestant from Nebraska, said when asked about Nie before she proceeded to nod and smile, mimicking her fellow contestant.
“She’s adorable,” she continued.
Summers then shifts her focus to Sinat.
“Miss Cambodia is here and doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language. Can you imagine?” Summers said. “Francesca said that would be so isolating and I said, ‘yes, and just confusing all the time.’ Poor Cambodia.”
English is the official language of the Miss Universe pageant, which is scheduled to take place in Bangkok on Sunday.
Summers’s mother, Desiree, said her daughter’s comments were taken out of context.
“She in no way meant any harm. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body,” she said.
When pressed about her daughter’s imitation of Nie, Desiree Summers said: “She was just recreating how Miss Vietnam acts when she doesn’t understand what someone is saying. She wasn’t trying to mock her.”