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PyeongChang 2018 Olympics

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2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Aja Evans?

Bobsledder Aja Evans has competed in the 2018 and 2014 games. She won a bronze medal in Sochi, her first Olympics.

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Evans was born in Chicago to a family of athletes. Her father, Fred Evans, won a national collegiate title in swimming in 1975, making him the first African American swimmer to do so. Her brother, Fred played eight seasons in the NFL and her uncle, Gary Matthews, and cousin, Gary Matthews Jr., played in MLB.

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

Evans began as a track and field athlete and attempted to make the 2008 Olympic team. 

In 2016, she tried again to make the team for the Rio Games, but tore nearly 90 percent of her ACL. When she didn’t make the team, she turned her attention to bobsledding, where she’s found success.

Other interesting facts:

  • Five-time All-American in the shot put at the University of Illinois
  • Won three Big Ten titles while at the University of Illinois
  • Set start record at the 2012 USA Bobsled National Push Championships
  • Posed in ESPN’s Body Issue in 2014

Photos: 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics - Day 1

Day one of the Winter Olympics includes the first competitions as well as practice for events like speed skating and ski events.

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Elana Meyers Taylor?

Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor returned to the Olympics in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. She won the silver medal in 2014 and won the bronze medal in 2010. 

 >> Read more trending news 

Born in Oceanside, California, Taylor, 33, grew up in Douglasville, Georgia. Ever the athlete, she’s been offered college scholarships for basketball, track and field, softball and soccer.

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

Taylor has made news for pledging to donate her brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which studies brain trauma in athletes and other groups. Taylor has had four concussions that she knows of, one that caused symptoms of light sensitivity and personality changes. The symptoms have since dissipated.

“Women are largely unrepresented in brain donations. And concussions affect women more than men, so they need to get research out,” Meyers Taylor told USA Today in an interview.

Other interesting facts:

  • Played professional softball before bobsledding
  • Married to bobsledder Nic Taylor, who proposed on the medal podium at the 2013 World Championships, where Taylor won the silver medal
  • Volunteers with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Plans to eventually become CEO of U.S. Olympic Committee

The Winter Olympics 2018: Five things to watch for during the games

In a couple of days, the 2018 Winter Olympics will get underway. Years of planning, building and qualifying -- along with some international intrigue when it comes to who will be competing -- will all come together in a pageant of national pride in a stadium in the northern part of South Korea.

What can you expect from this year’s games? Here are a few things to look for as you watch the 2018 Winter Olympics.

1. It’s going to be cold: Pyeongchang is in the northeast corner of South Korea. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Eastern) Friday and will likely see a temperature of between 15-20 degrees F. February is the city’s coldest and driest month. American athletes will have battery-heated parkas for the ceremony.

2. Something new: You’ll see some new events in these Winter Olympic Games. Look for big-air snowboarding, the Alpine team competition, a mixed-gender slalom, mixed doubles curling, and mass-start speedskating.

3. The two Koreas: Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, has allowed athletes from his country to cross the Demilitarized Zone and enter South Korea to participate in the games. He is also sending his sister to represent the country. Athletes from North and South Korea will march under the Korean Unification flag during the Opening Ceremony. There will also be a Korean women’s hockey team made up of members from both countries.

4. North Korea will be there, but what about Russia: Russia was banned from competition in this Winter Olympics because of issues of doping. However, 169 athletes from Russia will compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” They will march in the Opening Ceremony under the Olympic flag, and the Olympic anthem will be played, should they win medals.

5. Hey, who is the new guy: There are six nations making their Winter Olympics debut this year. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore are all participating in their first Winter Games.

>> Read more trending news

Some numbers:

$900 million: The amount generated in national ad sales for the Pyeongchang Games. $19.6 million: The amount spent on cybersecurity and X-ray screening for the games. $13 billion: The estimated cost of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. $4,683: The average price of a weeklong trip to Pyeongchang for the Olympics. 242: The number of athletes on the U.S. team; it’s a record. 45: The age of German speedskater Claudia Pechstein. She will be the first woman to compete in seven Winter Olympic Games. 39: The age of Team USA Hockey player Brian Gionta. 17: The age of Vincent Zhou, the youngest U.S. Olympian. 14: Number of hours Pyeongchang is ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone.

Here’s a refresher on how to watch the games.

When do the Olympics begin? 

The first events, ski jumping and curling, are scheduled for Thursday. The Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday. The games end on Feb. 25, when the Closing Ceremony will be held.

How you can watch the Opening Ceremony The Opening Ceremony begins at 8 p.m. local time in South Korea – that’s 6 a.m. ET. If you want to see the ceremony live, you can catch it on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Those services are available on streaming devices, including Amazon Fire, Apple TV and Roku. NBC will broadcast an edited version of the ceremony at 8 p.m. ET. Katie Couric and Mike Tirico will host the Opening Ceremony. 

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Adam Rippon?

Olympian Adam Rippon has been skating since he was 9 years old. Growing up, Rippon’s mother drove him three hours from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to train in New Jersey every day.

>> Read more trending news 

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

Ahead of the 2018 Olympics, Rippon reflected on his hometown and his time in the sport.“The support that I've gotten from people in my hometown has kind of been overwhelming,” he said in an interview. “It’s something I really never expected. I hear from people that I used to go to school with who are now following figure skating and keeping track of my career.”

Rippon made history as the first openly gay U.S. athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Other interesting facts:

  • Is the oldest of six children
  • Has choreographed skating programs for fellow Team USA athletes Mirai Nagasu, Ashley Wagner and Christina Gao
  • Was born deaf and underwent corrective surgery at Yale University just before his first birthday, allowing him to hear almost perfectly
  • Hobbies include running and hiking

Photos: Lindsey Vonn through the years

Images of Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn throughout the years.

Photos: Shaun White through the years

Images of Olympic snowboarder Shaun White through years in the public eye.

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Ryan Zapolski?

Ice hockey goaltender Ryan Zapolski debuted at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games on Team USA’s men’s ice hockey team.

>> Read more trending news 

Zapolski grew up playing hockey in Erie, Pennsylvania, at the all-male Cathedral Preparatory School and later went to Mercyhurst University. He’s been playing hockey since he was 8 years old.

WPXI spoke to Zapolski’s father, Raymond Zapolski, about how much it means for his son to be Team USA’s ice hockey goaltender in the 2018 games.

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

“You could play for a Stanley Cup or that kind of thing, but playing for your country to win a gold medal, or even have a chance to, the number of people that get to do that is so infinitely small, that it gives you goose bumps and chills,” Raymond Zapolski said.

Other interesting facts:

  • Has three siblings, Brandon, Chris and Lindsay
  • Married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth, in 2015
  • Goaltender of the Year and the East Coast Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player in the 2012-13 season with the South Carolina Stingrays
  • Hobbies include golfing and reading

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is John Henry Krueger?

Olympic short track speedskater John Henry Kreuger grew up in Peters Township, Pennsylvania, and debuted at the 2018 Winter Games after illness kept him out of the 2014 Olympics.

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A case of the swine flu made Kreuger highly contagious and he was hardly able to move. Because of the illness, he pulled out of the Olympic trials that year.

Krueger took the next few years to get in top form for 2018. He competed in mutlitple world cups, winning medals in each from 2014 to 2018.

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

“It’s my first games, so I’m not putting any expectations,” Kreuger told WPXI before heading to Pyeongchang, South Korea. “The only expectation I'm putting on myself is to not be afraid to skate and do what I can do.”

Other interesting facts:

  • Superstition is putting on his right skate before his left one
  • Favorite city is Washington, D.C.
  • Dream job is teaching English in a foreign country

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Nathan Chen?

Nathan Chen is a 2017 U.S. champion. Last year, he became youngest men's champion in more than 50 years at 17 years old. He is also a Four Continents Figure Skating champion. 

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Chen, 18, became the first skater to ever land five quads in a single program at the U.S. Championships in January 2018 and tried six in his free skate at the World Championships, when he finished sixth in his debut at the event.

About Chen

Chen was born May 5, 1999, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is the youngest of five children. He began skating at the age of 3 after the Olympics were held in Salt Lake City. Chen initially began skating because of his interest in hockey. 

He took ballet for more than six years and would practice at home with his sisters. 

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

Chen came into contact with Rafael Arutunian, a famed Russian coach, when he was still living and training in Salt Lake City. Chen began making visits to California to train with Arutunian. Chen and his mother moved to California a year later to train with the coach. 

Related video: The Meaning Behind The Olympic Rings

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Chloe Kim?

Chloe Kim has become one of snowboarding’s most renowned names. The 17-year-won the gold medal at the 2018 Games Feb. 13, making her the youngest female medalist in the halfpipe category.

>> Read more trending news 

She has won back-to-back X Games titles in 2015 and 2016 and two gold medals at the 2016 youth Olympic Games.

Kim qualified mathematically for the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi, but at age 13, was not old enough to compete

 >> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

She could become the youngest female snowboarding medalist at the age of 17, but she may be beaten to the record by Hailey Langland, since the slopestyle competition falls one day before half-pipe. 

About Kim 

Kim was born April 23, 2000, in Long Beach, California. She was on a snowboard by the age of 4, but was not thrilled with the sport at first. Kim grew up taking trips to Mammoth with her father, who would drive six hours each way on the weekends. He would form a makeshift bed for Kim in the back seat of their SUV. 

At the age of 6, Kim entered her first competition and won junior nationals the following year. 

South Korea connection 

Kim is a first generation Korean-American. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1998. Kim is fluent in Korean and her mother's side of the family lives in Seoul.

Other interesting facts:

  • Won the season-opening World Cup in New Zealand in 2018
  • Had a year-long streak that started in January 2016 at the X Games and was broken in late January 2017 at the X Games, where she finished third
  • Won gold at the 2018 Euro X Games
  • Became the first female snowboarder to land back-to-back 1080s and scored a perfect 100 to win at the 2016 U.S. Open
  • Won silver at the 2014 X Games at the age of 13

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Nick Goepper?

Nick Goepper is a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist in slopestyle and a three-time X Games champion.

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Goepper started out the 2017-18 season with a fourth-place finish at the World Cup in New Zealand.

2014 Sochi Games

Goepper was the top-ranked skier heading into Sochi. He nabbed an early lead in the slopestyle final with a promising first run, in which he landed a triple cork, but he was upstaged. Goepper's first run score was enough to score bronze. This was only the third time in history that the U.S. swept the podium at the Olympic Winter Games.

About Goepper

Goepper was born March 4, 1994, in Lawrenceburg, a small farming town in Southern Indiana. He is the eldest of four children. His two sisters were competitive gymnasts. Goepper would practice his jumps on the trampoline under the guidance of his sisters’ coach, Mary Lee Tracy, who was the assistant coach for the gold medal-winning 1996 women’s gymnastics team. 

During his middle school days, Goepper would mow lawns, pull weeds and sell candy bars in order to earn enough money to buy a ski pass for the winter. He would buy the candy bars in bulk from Costco and then sell them out of his backpack on the school bus.

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

Goepper was discovered at an action sports camp in Ohio at the age of 15 and was later offered a scholarship to a sports academy in Oregon.

Other interesting facts:

  • Finished second at the 2017 Euro X Games.
  • First impressive results came during the 2010-2011 season, when he placed third at the Dew Tour stop at Killington, then later won the Dumont Cup that winter.

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Lindsey Vonn?

Lindsey Vonn is a two-time Olympic medalist who holds the women’s record for most FIS Alpine Ski World Cup wins. She won gold in downhill and bronze in super-G at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. 

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Pyeongchang will be Vonn’s fourth Olympic Games. She has competed in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Games. 

The 32-year-old was unable to defend her title at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after suffering a serious knee injury.

>> More Olympics coverage at WPXI.com

Vonn began to ski at Buck Hill Ski Area near her family home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her father, Alan Kildow, is a three-time national junior champion who blew out his knee at the age of 18. It was Kildow who mapped out Vonn’s skiing future. 

At the age of 11, Vonn wanted a bigger challenge than Buck Hill. Her mother quit her job of 17 years and they moved to Vail, Colorado, for the winter to train at the Ski Club Vail. The following year, her father and two brothers and two sisters also moved to Vail.

Vonn has dealt with a laundry list of injuries, including a broken arm she suffered in a November 2016 training crash, but she still managed to rewrite the record books.

Other Interesting Facts

  • Owns seven world championship medals.
  • Fourth-time winner of the overall World Cup title.
  • Owns the women’s record for most World Cup wins.
  • Closing in on the overall record of career World Cup wins.
  • Owns the women’s record for most World Cup discipline titles.
  • Eight-time winner of the World Cup downhill title.
  • Has won more World Cup downhill races than any other skier.
  • Has won more World Cup super-G races than any other skier.
  • First alpine skier to win 20 crystal globes.

2018 Winter Olympics: Who is Shaun White?

Shaun White, 31, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe. No male snowboarder has more than two medals. 

White has competed in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games. He competed sparingly since 2014, focusing on his business ventures.

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White was born on Sept. 3, 1986, in San Diego. He had a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot and had two major surgeries before his first birthday. In his younger years, White had to wear corrective leg braces at night because he had bow legs. 

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White began skiing during his family’s twice-a-year trips to Mammoth, California. He wanted to start snowboarding lessons when he was 6 years old, but resort rules said he had to be 12. Instead, White and his father took a lesson to learn how to get on a snowboard.

At age 7, he won his first amateur contest. His win earned him a wild card to the national championships, where he finished 11th

White's snowboarding career cost his parents $20,000 a year, putting a financial strain on his family. During the early days of his career, the family would drive to Mammouth, a six-hour drive, every Friday in their 1964 Econoline van. The entire family would sleep in the van in place of paying for a hotel room.

White turned pro at 13. 

Torino 2006

White was considered the favorite to take gold after entering the 2006 Torino Games, where he did not disappoint. White, then 19 years old, racked up 46.8 out of 50 points in the first run of the final round by landing back-to-back 1080s followed by a pair of 900s. 

Vancouver 2010White entered the Vancouver 2010 games as one of the most recognizable athletes at the games. White clinched the gold medal with his first two runs in the final with back-to-back double corks and that earned him 46.8 out of 50 points. His win boosted him from No. 51 to No. 2 on the "Bloomberg Power 100" list of the most marketable athletes in the country.

Sochi 2014

White entered the Sochi Games as a two-time defending Olympic halfpipe champion. He attempted to become the first American man to win the same event three Winter Games in a row. He was supposed to compete in both the halfpipe and slopestyle, but pulled out of slopestyle less than 24 hours before start time. He wanted to focus on the halfpipe and wanted to avoid injury. White left Sochi empty-handed after finishing fourth.

2016-17 season

White had ankle surgery in 2016 after a training session in New Zealand. He said his ankle was bothering him for years. He had a piece of chipped bone removed.

White debuted at the U.S. Grand Prix after returning from his ankle surgery but did not qualify for the final. He had a strong showing at the Olympic Test Event later that month. White scored 95 in his best of three runs but was beaten by Australia's Scotty James by one point in the final run. White defeated James several weeks later at the U.S. Open.

Other interesting facts:

  • He has an event series (Air + Style), a men's clothing line (WHT SPACE) and is part-owner of Mammoth Mountain, where he grew up riding. 
  • First athlete to win gold at both the Winter and Summer X Games in skateboarding.
  • Won a record 18 medals, including 13 gold, at the Winter X Games, the biggest snowboarding event besides the Olympics.
  • Won five X Games medals in skateboarding.
  • Scored a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix event in January 2018.
  • Attempted to qualify for the 2002 Olympics in halfpipe at the age of 15, but narrowly failed to make the team. 

Reports: North and South Korea to form joint Olympic team, march together in opening ceremony

South Korea and North Korea have agreed to create a joint Olympic team and march together in the opening ceremony in the next Winter Olympics, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

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The two countries met for the second time in a week Monday to discuss the possibility of creating a joint ice hockey team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The nations also agreed to create a joint North and South Korean women's ice hockey team for the Olympics in Pyeongchang. This will be the first unified team for the two countries since they joined together for an international table-tennis championship and a youth soccer match in 1991.

North and South Korea have never marched together under one flag in any Olympic games.

Chrissy Teigen offers to pay McKayla Maroney's possible $100K fine to speak out about team doctor

One after one, gymnasts and other victims of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, 54, stepped forward in a Michigan courtroom Tuesday to recount the sexual abuse and emotional trauma they say he inflicted on them as children.

U.S. Olympians Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas are among the many women to accuse Nassar of abuse.

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Nearly 100 victims are expected to address the court during the four-day sentencing hearing. 

However, former gold medalist McKayla Maroney may not speak out.

In December 2016, Maroney signed a confidential settlement with the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts to keep allegations that she was sexually abused by Nassar a secret.

The settlement included nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses and Maroney or her parents could be sued for more than $100,000 for violating the agreement. The suit seeks to invalidate those provisions under a California law that prohibits settlements in civil cases that could result in criminal sex offense charges.

Chrissy Teigen, who is from Snohomish, Washington, is offering to pay Maroney's possible fine so Maroney can speak out against Nassar. 

On Tuesday, Teigen tweeted the following about the fine:

"The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla."

Maroney said Nassar's abuse started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Figure skater Jimmy Ma’s modern hip hop routine lights up social media

Figure skater Jimmy Ma raised the roof at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, Calif., Thursday night with his short program.

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Ma, a 22-year-old athlete from Queens, N.Y., skated to a hip hop-electronic dance mix of “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake & Lil Jon, and DJ Snake’s Propaganda.

Social media lit up after Ma’s performance with comments like, “Jimmy Ma brings it at U.S. Figure Skating Championships” and “Section 121 is rocking out to Jimmy Ma’s music.”

“Figure skating is an extreme sport,” Ma told USA Today. “I want the most amount of people to see that it is both an awesome art form and also an awesome sport. The whole point was to get people hyped. Get older people hyped and for younger people to think it is cool,” he said.

Despite Ma’s well-received program, he won’t be going to the Olympics. With only three Olympic slots available, he’s in 11th place in the men’s competition and 30 points behind gold medal favorite Nathan Chen ahead of Saturday’s free skate program.

>> Related: NFL player-turned-teacher, Aaron Maybin raises money to heat Baltimore schools during deep freeze

But Ma is serious about skating, recently relocating to Dallas for training while taking online classes at Fordham University, USA Today reported.

Tonya Harding dishing on 1994 attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan

Former champion figure skater Tonya Harding is opening up about her childhood and the moment she went down in infamy after the 1994 attack on rival figure skater and Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan.

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Kerrigan was attacked two days before the Olympics trials by Shane Stant, who was paid $6,500 by Harding’s bodyguard, Shawn Eckardt.

Stant, Eckardt and Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly were all charged in connection with whacking Kerrigan on the knee in Detroit.

Harding eventually admitted that she withheld information from the police during the investigation.

After her confession, she was subsequently banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association and U.S. Championships. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $160,000, serve 500 hours of community service and was given three years probation.

>> Related: People are losing it over how Kristi Yamaguchi wished fellow former figure skater Nancy Kerrigan good luck ahead of her “DWTS” debut

Ahead of the premiere of the new biopic, “I, Tonya,” Harding will sit down for a 2-hour interview with ABC’s Amy Robach in early January and told the corespondent that the media made her out to be the bad guy from the start.

“The media had me convicted of doing something wrong before I had even done anything at all,” she said in a preview clip.

I am always the bad person. Is it a challenge from the Lord to see how far I can be pushed until I break and become nothing? You can’t push me that far anymore, because I have been nothing and I have been nothing several times.”

“Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story” airs on ABC on Jan. 11 at 9 p.m. ET.

Lindsey Vonn opens up about backlash after Trump-Olympics comments

After pledging to represent the United States but not President Trump at the 2018 Winter Olympics, skier Lindsey Vonn is opening up about some of the backlash she’s been receiving since.

>> Read more trending news

“I’ve received a tremendous amount of feedback, both positive and negative, about my recent CNN interview,” she explained in a long Instagram post. “The point that I was trying to articulate is that all Olympic athletes represent their nation as a whole, and are not representatives of their government or any specific political figure or party. None of us work tirelessly for years on end to compete in the Olympics on behalf of Democrats or Republicans. The Olympics are a non-political event, a chance for everyone to put aside their differences and be on the same ‘team.’ That does not mean that Olympic athletes don’t have political opinions.”

>> Related: ‘Fox & Friends’ hosts give ‘un-American’ Lindsey Vonn a mouthful after her remarks on Trump and the Olympics

“As for myself, my recent comments opened up my eyes as to how divided we are right now,” she continued. “It is hurtful to read comments where people are hoping I break my neck or that God is punishing me for being ‘anti-Trump.’ We need to find a way to put aside our differences and find common ground in communicating. Is it wrong to hope for a better world?”

Vonn made headlines last week when she told CNN, “I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

>> Related: U.S. Olympic skiing legend Lindsey Vonn voices harsh words for President Trump

The skier was immediately criticized for the remarks and was even branded “un-American” by one of the president’s favorite news programs “Fox & Friends.” Now, she’s insisting that she is indeed “proud to be an American.”

“As an American, I am extremely proud that our great nation was founded on principals and ideals where citizens can express our opinions openly. It is a privilege that some others around the world don’t have,” she wrote in her post. “I am proud to be an American, and I want our country to continue to be a symbol of hope, compassion, inclusion and world unity.”

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