"Oh my God, I just won America's Next Top Model and I can't believe it!" McKey said after being crowned the reality competition series' eleventh-season champ during last night's finale broadcast on The CW.
"I was not the little girl who said 'I wanna grow up and be a model.' I was very much the tomboy. I was hardcore into soccer, so I got started in modeling when I was 15-years-old and I put all my energy, all my competitiveness into modeling and it's something I've wanted so bad and it just didn't happen," McKey continued. "This was the last thing for me. I was gonna try out for America's Next Top Model and that was going to be it. I made the show and it was the best thing for me. It made me realize that maybe this was something that really can happen."
As Top Model's eleventh-season winner, McKey receives a management deal with Elite Model Management, a $100,000 contract with cosmetics company CoverGirl, and a cover story and six-page fashion spread in an issue of Seventeen magazine.
"Now I'm America's Next Top Model, and from here this is the beginning, I'm gonna get to keep going. I'm gonna get to keep rising and keep channeling my energy into stuff. It's just a dream come true," she added.
Samantha Potter, an 18-year-old student athlete from Woodland Hills, CA, finished as the season's runner-up.
"This whole competition has really brought out a whole different side of me," she said through tears. "I never saw myself as being a pretty girl. I don't ever see myself as a pretty girl. Now I do."
America's Next Top Model's eleventh-season finale began with McKey, Samantha, and Analeigh Tipton, a 19-year-old student from Sacramento, CA, returning from the previous judging panel that saw the elimination of Marjorie Conrad. Once back in their apartment, the three remaining girls received Tyra Mail containing their lines for an upcoming CoverGirl commercial shoot.
Unlike last season's commercial shoot, which featured an all-English script, the girls were surprised to learn that their script contained lines in Dutch as well.
"Well, it looks like we're not sleeping much," said Analeigh.
The next day, the girls met with photo shoot director Jay Manuel who told them they would film their commercial on a boat cruising through the water and then participate in a photo shoot for a CoverGirl print ad.
The girls also learned that the season's eventual winner would have the photo they were about to shoot used in a national ad campaign, on a billboard in Times Square, and in Wal-Marts across America.
"So hopefully you have all your lines committed to memory because you need to deliver the essence of CoverGirl," Jay told them.
Top Model tenth-season winner Whitney Thompson also met with the girls and informed them that the end of their shoots would each feature a "scene stealing kiss" with a male model.
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Samantha, who admitted to being "nervous," was the first to film her commercial.
Jay told Samantha to be more confident and make direct "eye contact" with the camera, but ended up being disappointed with her performance.
"Sam's the girl that always brings energy to the set, and the problem was it was so apparent she was holding back," Jay said.
McKey filmed her commercial next, and despite butchering her Dutch lines and being "jittery" during her early takes, she impressed Jay.
"McKey definitely got better, she sounded good. It's exactly what I was looking for. But what I wasn't looking for was all this" Jay said as he imitated McKey's jitters.
Analeigh went last and struggled the most. After repeatedly forgetting her lines during her early takes, Jay ended up having to fed them to her lines one-by-one and just have her repeat what he was saying.
"I completely blanked, I got teary-eyed, I got frustrated. I saw my dream just kind of go down the drain," Analeigh said following her shoot.
"Analeigh was the huge surprise today." Jay said. "She struggled [with] the words, she was really wooden. She lost all of that bubbly personality and that girl next door quality."
The girls then took part in their CoverGirl photo shoot, where Jim de Yonker photographed each of them individually. .
The following day the girls traveled to the eleventh season's penultimate judging panel with Top Model creator and lead judge Tyra Banks; photographer Nigel Barker; runway expert J. "Ms. J" Alexander; supermodel Paulina Porizkova; and guest judge Addy van der Krommenacker, a Dutch fashion designer.
Prior to the judging, Tyra revealed that the competition's final challenge would require the final two girls to model some of Addy's designs in a fashion show.
After looking at Samantha's commercial and photo, Nigel felt that she had seemed "distracted by [herself]" during her commercial shoot.
"It was just choppy and looked like you were rehearsing your lines," he added.
Addy said that while her Dutch accent during her lines was good, her performance was "not very convincing" overall.
Miss J. added that her photo shoot had looked "forced," while Tyra said her smile was not "modelesque."
The judges then viewed Analeigh's commercial and photo and were very disappointed by her performance.
"Oh, that was painful," said Tyra.
"What happened? I just thought you were a great little actress," Paulina. "This sucked."
Tyra added that her photo shoot looked like "a head shot for an actress," and that her film had showed little variety in her poses.
The judges were impressed by Mckey's commercial and photo and credited her with improving significantly in the time since her first commercial shoot in the competition.
"Well look at you miss lady, I think you do so much better memorizing than you did when you were reading off a teleprompter during the last commercial," said Tyra. "There was some personality."
Nigel added that her photo was the only one in the round where one of the girls "actually look like a model."
"She looks a little naughty, I like that," added Addy.
Following the judges' deliberation, Tyra revealed that McKey and Samantha would be the competition's last two finalists, while Analeigh had been eliminated.
"I'm very upset, but I'm coming out of this a lot stronger, a lot wiser," Analeigh said following her elimination. "[I have] no regrets. I think regrets are mistakes you don't learn from and everything that I faltered on here I learned from, therefore I don't look back in shame on anything. No, I think I did my best and I gave my heart, and that's all I can give."
After being revealed as the competition's Top 2 finalists, Samantha and McKey met with Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Ann Shoket and they each shot the cover photo that -- should they be the one to win the competition -- would be used as the cover of their Seventeen issue.
"They both astounded me today, I think it's going to be a very tough elimination," Shoket said after watching both girls pose. "It's a tough call."
The girls then met with Jay, who revealed the long and winding "Willy Wonka, Dr. Seussian runway" that he'd designed for the fashion show.
"Jay had totally outdone himself," Samantha said upon seeing the runway which featured hills, slopes and steps for the first time.
After seeing the runway, McKey and Samantha began preparing for the fashion show, which also featured Holland's Next Top Model's fourth-season winner and Whitney.
"I'm just so anxious [and] excited," McKey said prior to the fashion show. "I just can't wait to get this show over, because once we're done I've done everything I can in this competition and it's either gonna be enough or it's not."
The show then commenced and both girls appeared to execute their walks on the complicated runway with little difficulty as the judges looked on from the audience,
Following the show, Tyra greeted the girls and congratulated them on their successful show
"These are professional Dutch models, and you girls just stood out an were just so beautiful, well done," she told them.
Top Model's final eleventh-season panel then commenced.
"Look at you two. You both walked into this competition as little girls, and now you walk in as lovely, young sophisticated women," Tyra told McKey and Samantha. "You both have come such a long way, and we're about to find out who is America's Next Top Model."
The judges felt that Samantha had looked "fantastic" during her runway walk while working her outfits well. However, Tyra said that her "downturned mouth" had shown "a bit of worry" during her walks and detracted from her overall look.
The judges were more complimentary of McKey's runway walks and said that she had started off well with her first walk and only improved from there.
"I liked your first walk, but I loved your second one," Miss J. told her. "You became more secure with it."
Tyra added that she had liked her facial expressions that she had used in front of the judges.
"You didn't just 'serve dress,' you 'served face,'" she said.
In addition, the judges evaluated Samantha and McKey's photos from all of the tenth season's previous challenge shoots before deliberating their decision.