Kellie Pickler, “American Idol” finalist and frequent USO performer, is gracing the cover of Maxim magazine’s “Salute to the Troops” issue. Inside, she talks about her USO duties and how she hates singing the National Anthem (too much pressure!).
You recently came back from your fifth USO tour. What first inspired you to get involved?
“I come from a military family. My grandfather is a retired Marine, and I’ve always had a great deal of respect for anyone who serves our country. It really does take someone special to sacrifice everything. I don’t mean just their lives, either. There are men who are sacrificing the chance to hold their newborn baby!”
Do people ever mistake you for military?
“I go through the airport with the official military travel backpacks, and people will come up and say, ‘Thank you for your service./ I’m like, ‘Oh, no. Don’t let these bags fool you. I’m just a big supporter!’ I know they’re either going, ‘She’s in the service?’ or ‘Man, we’re f***ed.'”
You recently brought a wounded Marine, Sgt. Sean DeBevoise, to the CMT Awards in lieu of your husband. Would you consider more military dates in the future?
“Sure! It’s all I can do to get my husband to sit through one of those things, so it’s a win-win.”
You’re a huge sports nut and, clearly, a patriot. Do you ever sing the national anthem at sporting events?
“I hate doing the anthem!”
“I love the anthem if someone else is singing it, but doing it myself gives me anxiety! I feel like people are waiting for you to mess up! I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again, I’m sure, but I’d rather show my patriotism by going to Afghanistan.”
Read the full interview at Maxim’s website, or pick up the magazine, which is on newsstands beginning July 31.