Personal lifeFakih was born September 22, 1985 in Srifa, a small city in the Jabal Amel region of Southern Lebanon, to a Shi'a Muslim family. As a young child, she lived in the village of Souk El Gharb in Mount Lebanon, and attended St. Rita's, a Catholic school near Beirut. In 1993, her parents, Hussein and Nadia Fakih, moved their family to New York in order to escape effects of the Lebanese Civil War. Fakih attended St. John's Preparatory School, a Catholic high school in Queens, and her father ran a restaurant in Manhattan. In New York, Fakih's family felt they were subjected to threats and vandalism based on events in the Middle East, and business at her father's restaurant declined following the September 11, 2001, attacks. In 2003, her family moved to the large Arab-American community in Dearborn, Michigan. Fakih and her family are Muslim, but they also celebrate elements of Christianity, such as Christmas. Fakih resides in Dearborn. She graduated from Henry Ford Community College, went on to earn degrees in economics and business management from the University of Michigan–Dearborn, and plans to attend law school after her year-long reign. She has a sister, who returned to live in Lebanon, and two brothers. Prior to winning the Miss USA title she worked as a sales associate at the Detroit Medical Center, developing and recruiting in the Arab American community. She is currently dating professional baseball player Ricky Romero.
PageantsFakih competed in her first pageant when she was nineteen, placing fourth runner-up at Miss Wayne County, a preliminary pageant for Miss Michigan in the Miss America system. She also competed in three smaller international pageants.
Miss Lebanon EmigrantIn 2008, Fakih was selected to represent Michigan in the Miss Lebanon Emigrant competition. The event is part of the Miss Lebanon pageant, and is open to young women who are Lebanese or of Lebanese origin, living in countries of the overseas Lebanese community. Fakih placed third in the contest, held August 13 in Batroun, Lebanon, finishing behind Carina El Kaddissi of Brazil and Jessica Kahawaty of Australia.
Miss USAFakih won the Miss Michigan USA pageant on September 19, 2009 at the McMorran Place Theater Port Huron. In May 2010 she represented Michigan at the Miss USA 2010 pageant held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. She won the Miss USA title on May 16, 2010, becoming the first Miss Michigan USA to win the national title since Kenya Moore in 1993.
Fakih is widely believed to be the first Lebanese American, the first Arab American and the first Muslim to win the Miss USA title; however, pageant officials stated their records are not detailed enough to confirm these claims. The first Michigan delegate to win the Miss USA title, Carole Gist, became the first African-American Miss USA in 1990.
Less than 24 hours after she was crowned, internet entertainment media directed attention to a website featuring a 2007 "Stripper 101" pole dancing contest sponsored by Detroit radio station WKQI and won by Fakih. WKQI said they had been contacted by representatives of the Miss Universe Organization, requesting additional photographs and information about the contest. The station expressed their support for Fakih, adding "the photos taken from our website are no more provocative than those on the Miss USA website." On May 18, Miss USA pageant representatives told ABC News they would proceed with their media tour starring Fakih. She was also an actress in an independent short film with sexual undertones titled Throbbing Justice.
During and after the Miss USA pageant, Fakih's religious and ethnic identity became the subject of widespread discussion. On the subject of identity, she was quoted as saying "I'd like to say I'm American first, and I am an Arab-American, I am Lebanese-American, and I am Muslim-American."
Many Arab Americans celebrated Fakih's victory, but some Muslims felt she did not properly represent their religion. Muslim scholar Ghazal Omid wrote "To say that she is a Muslim is inaccurate. No Muslim woman can call herself a ... Muslim and be on stage with her bikini". Responding to the issue in interviews, Fakih said she and her family are Muslims and respect the religion, but they may not be as strict as many people and do not define themselves by their religion; they view themselves as more "spiritual" than "religious" and appreciate all religions. On the subject of the planned Islamic cultural center and mosque in New York, Fakih stated, "I totally agree with President Obama with the statement on the constitutional rights of freedom of religion. [But] it shouldn't be so close to the World Trade Center. We should be more concerned with the tragedy than religion."
Miss UniverseAs holder of the Miss USA title, Fakih represented the United States in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant, held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on August 23. Fakih did not place as a semi-finalist and was the first Miss USA since Shauntay Hinton, Miss USA 2002, to not place at the Miss Universe pageant.
Other mediaFakih appeared as a guest star on the November 29, 2010, edition of WWE Raw, where she crowned Sheamus, the winner of the King of the Ring tournament. She later competed on WWE Tough Enough on USA and was eliminated in week four.
She is listed number 86 on AskMen.com's top 99 women 2011 edition. On May 24, 2011, The Roots performed a freestyle song about her during her appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. She also appears in the movie Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman, scheduled to premiere on October 7, 2011.