[Warning: Read only if you've seen tonight's ANTM cycle 20 finale!]
After 15 weeks of tooching, booching, and oodles of flawesome fierceness — not to mention more smizing than most doctors recommend — America’s Next Top Model has finally named its 20th grand prize winner. For the first time ever, long-limbed female beauties weren’t the only models gunning for the show’s title: Cycle 20 included both ladies and a gaggle of chiseled male models, all competing for everlasting glory and the approval of mother hen Tyra Banks.
So, who took home a Guess campaign, a Nylon magazine spread, and a contract with NEXT Model Management: Bronx cheekbone machine Marvin Cortes, 6-foot-tall blond bombshell Jourdan Miller (she’s the woman), or androgynous stunner Cory Hindorff? We’ve got the answer right here — as well as an interview with your next Top Model.
And the winner is…
“I’m just so happy,” the 19-year-old Bend, Ore. native gushed in a phone interview with EW Friday afternoon. “I don’t think anything could happen to make me feel more joy than I do right now. My life has completely changed for the good.” Read on for more of Jourdan’s thoughts on victory, her haters, and one of the season’s toughest moments — which, in retrospect, doubles as one of its most hilarious.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, congratulations!
JOURDAN MILLER: Thank you so much! Oh my gosh, it is amazing that I can finally talk about everything. I’ve been keeping it inside for so long.
Since the beginning of April, so it’s been a little over six months. It has been very tough. On the inside, I’m this little girl that is screaming and kicking, just wants the whole world to know that I’m America’s Next Top Model. But I’ve done really good. I just pretended like I didn’t even know what was going to happen.
Right after you won, Tyra said that you can take a higher percentage of good pictures than she can. That’s pretty big praise coming from her.
That was just shocking, absolutely shocking. Just to come from someone I have looked up to my entire life — I can remember sitting in front of the TV when I was 11 years old, watching the first couple seasons [of Top Model]. It’s more than I could ever ask for. Just to have her say that to me is better than winning the entire competition.
This was the first season with male contestants. Were you expecting a guy to win?
Yes, I was. I remember standing there and thinking, “It has to be a guy. They want something exciting to happen” — not that me winning isn’t exciting. But I think that me winning is definitely going to throw everybody off, because they’re not expecting it. I just remember standing there thinking, “It’s gonna be Marvin, it’s gonna be Marvin. There’s nothing I can do. And then when Tyra said my name…I could not even fathom the idea that my picture was the only picture lit up on the screen. I remember shaking like a leaf, and thinking that my knees were going to buckle underneath me any second.
That said, you were a front-runner throughout most of the season — you won Best Picture five times, and never ended up in the bottom two. But were there any other moments when you started to doubt that you would win?
There were definitely moments all the time. Getting best photo five times in a row, I had this feeling like, “It can’t be me. I can’t go home. I’ve done such a good job. I’ve done better than everyone else.” But there definitely were moments. The idea of not being able to continue, it’s very humbling.
Did one of those moments come when Chris was the only eliminated contestant to joined your team in Bali?
I thought that Nina would choose my color, because we had been really close the entire competition. It really hurt. And then when I saw Chris, I was like, “You know what? I may not like Chris personally as a friend, but the fact that he chose my team because he believed in my skill as a model,.” I’m just extremely grateful for that.
Did the two of you talk after you won, and clear the air?
I have kept in contact with Cory, Nina, and here and there, Chris and I will tweet each other. He’s just been really supportive. And I think it kind of took getting to know all of the people outside the competition to actually see who they are as individuals. Now I have a lot more respect for him, because there’s no prize involved; it’s just strictly friendship.
Looking back on it, do you think people were too hard on him in the house?
You know, looking back now, I think that yeah, people were a little too hard on Chris. Whatever his story may be — I don’t know his entire story, but we’re all humans at the end of the day, and that’s what I try and look at. And he may have been a jerk at times, but the greatest lesson out of all of that is forgiveness. And I think that also, when you’re intimidated of someone else because they have skills that may be better than yours, you maybe don’t like that person because they’re a threat. I think the other contestants felt threatened by him. No matter what drama was going on, he seemed to do really well with Kelly [Cutrone] in panel. I think people were like, “Well, Kelly just likes him, so that’s why he’s here.” They didn’t realize that it was about modeling. It’s not a personality competition.
So do you think that’s why so many people chose Cory’s team during the finale — because of his personality, and not because of his modeling?
I do. I think that everyone chose [their] team based on the friendship they had built. And honestly, my head was about the competition the whole time. So I didn’t spend a lot of time getting to know any of the other contestants or really investing too much of my emotions into them, because I knew I had bigger things to focus on.
Going back and watching the show, did it surprise you to see some of the stuff people were saying about you in their confessionals?
Oh my gosh, all the time. It’s so fun for me to see the things that people say behind my back, because immediately afterwards I’ll get a text message being like, “Oh, you know I don’t really hate you!” I was really surprised at Renee’s commentaries. I didn’t think they were going to be as harsh. She did warn me a little bit — like, “Hey, I kind of talk some smack about you.”
But you also kind of understand where she was coming from.
I understand everything. And the way that they would talk about me — sometimes I’m like, “Oh yeah, I am kind of being a bitch right now,” you know? Or “Yeah, that wasn’t cool of me to do.”
What it was like to watch Cory talk about how much he hated kissing you?
[laughs] Okay, that was probably one of the best moments ever watching America’s Next Top Model. I remember the sweat and the humidity just pouring off of our faces as we were trying to kiss each other. I just remember tasting sweat the whole time. It was torture, but it was fun — and looking back, it was just hilarious.
Okay, so he said that because of the circumstances — it wasn’t just because you’re a girl.
Yeah. I think he would have been okay with it if we had been in an air-conditioned room. But just the fact that we were in the sun and we were so hot and sweaty — it looked like someone had poured a bucket over Cory’s head.
So, what’s next for you?
Next would be packing up my stuff and getting ready to go to the big city. I’m planning on moving to New York. I’m trying to get myself out there and start working, and really just start crafting my craft, you know? And making a brand for myself, and figuring out what it is about me that makes me a signature model. I think that’s the next step, is just figuring out what my brand is.
You talked a lot about your short marriage to an abusive man on the show — do you plan to maybe work with a domestic violence organization?
Yes, yes, of course. I am extremely interested in either working with a nonprofit organization for battered women, or even just families who are victims of domestic violence in general. Because domestic violence doesn’t always have to be physical. And I want not only women but kids out there to know that if they’re in a situation that is hurting them, there is help. I want to be that role model for them. I want to go around to schools and be able to share my story. And maybe someone will come up to me and be like, “Hey Jourdan, I heard your story, and it really inspired me, and I think I need some help.” That would just be amazing, if I could help another person get out of any type of bad situation.
Is there another Top Model winner whose career you’d like to emulate?
My biggest inspiration right now would probably be Karlie Kloss. I have followed that girl since I was 13, and she’s just as tall as I am. And I believe if she can do it, I can do it. My ultimate goal is to be a Victoria’s Secret model.
Have you ever met Karlie?
I have never met her. But if I ever got the chance, I would probably pass out and pee my pants. [laughs]
A lot of Top Model winners try to do the fashion thing, but it doesn’t always work out for them. How will you make sure it happens for you?
If it doesn’t happen right away — if it takes me a little bit longer to get the success that I’m looking for — I’m willing to be patient and put in the long days of work and the money and the time. Because at the end of the day, it’s all worth it. And it’s not about a paycheck or anything. I would rather not get paid to do something that I love to do, you know? I look at modeling as not only something that I love to do, but a creative outlet as well. It’s like playing dress up as a little girl. I think every woman would love to just be dolled up and have their picture taken all day.