"This journey was incredibly hard. I have learned to embarrass myself and to speak -- which was a struggle," Nicole said after her victory.
"Sometimes I didn't think I was going to survive the journey, like I remember during casting week I went home and I cried because I was like, 'What have I gotten myself into with this?' I didn't think it would be okay to be that dorky girl, but I'm a dork and I'm America's Next Top Model."
As Top Model's thirteenth-season winner, the 18-year-old student from Louisville, CO won a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl Cosmetics, a contract with Wilhelmina Models and a cover and six-page spread in Seventeen magazine. In addition, Nicole became Top Model's first 5'7" or under "petite edition" winner.
Laura Kirkpatrick, a 19-year-old waitress from Stanford, KY, finished as the runner-up.
"My mom, my grandma and my sister and my littler brother are going to be so proud of me," Laura said after recovering from her initial tear-filled disappointment. "They won't even care that I'm not America's Next Top Model."
The thirteenth-season finale began following the double elimination of Erin Wagner and Jennifer An, as both Laura and Nicole expressed surprise at being in the Top 2. Laura expressed confidence at her ability to beat Nicole if it came down to personality.
"Nicole's pictures are always really good and they've been really strong in the past, but personality-wise and stuff, I don't see her as a whole lot of competition," said Laura in a confessional.
However once the girls learned they'd have to compete in the season's second CoverGirl commercial shoot, Laura's confidence quickly turned to concern due to her dyslexia.
"I do feel like I have an advantage over Laura because she just stresses out so much about being able to read and memorize a line," commented Nicole.
The next day Laura and Nicole met Top Model photo shoot director Jay Manuel for their CoverGirl commercial and photo shoot -- with the winner appearing in advertising for the cosmetics company.
The girls then met twelfth-season champ Teyona Anderson, who revealed what makeup they'd be modeling. Jay then explained that while he was coaching one of them during the commercial's filming, judge Nigel Barker would be photographing the other one.
Nigel thought Nicole looked "fantastic and "amazing" and also "modeled really well." Laura initially struggled with the commercial shoot as she stumbled over lines, but Jay thought she had a "really good attitude."
"I feel like I have defeated dyslexia," she said after it was done.
The girls switched spots, and it was Nicole's turn to have a hard time with the commercial -- as Jay thought she sounded snooty and her performance level was "low."
"I feel like I was trying so hard not to be snotty," opined Nicole. "Jay tells me that I look like a snob and nobody would buy this mascara from me. I'm like, 'Oh my god!'"
The next day the girls were met by Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket, who was there to shoot their potential cover photo for the magazine.
"Those girls did so well. I was so impressed by what I saw today," Ann said after it was over. "It is anybody's game at this point."
Back at the house, the girls practiced their runway walk for the season's finale runway show before they each had a one-on-one conversation with Top Model creator and lead judge Tyra Banks.
They then arrived for the runway show, where they were met by Jay and Top Model judge and runway expert J. "Miss J" Alexander -- who revealed Erin, Jennifer and fellow previously-ousted thirteenth-season finalists Brittany Markert and Sundai Love would also be participating.
"This is the first time that we have brought back eliminated girls," said Jay.
All of the girls then received hair and makeup before the runway shoot commenced. While both were nervous, neither Nicole nor Laura had any significant problems.
"You guys really did a good job, both of you," Tyra told them afterwards. "You should be proud of yourselves. I know you were nervous, but you did a good job."
That night Nicole and Laura arrived for the thirteenth season's final elimination ceremony -- where they were met by Tyra, Nigel and Miss J.
The judges then evaluated Laura and Nicole's photos from the previous thirteenth-season shoots and watched their recent CoverGirl commercial and photo shoot before deliberating their decision.
Tyra then revealed Nicole as the winner.
(Photo credit The CW/Ryan Goble)
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