Gerber names 15-month-old Hmong American 2019 'spokesbaby'

Kairi Yang, who lives in North Carolina with her parents and other family members, enjoys eating chicken nuggets and building blanket forts.
Image: Kairi Yang
Gerber's next "spokesbaby" Kairi Yang on TODAY.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

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By Charles Lam

Gerber named Kairi Yang, a 15-month-old Hmong American from North Carolina with a "one-of-a-kind personality" and a love of chicken nuggets, the company’s next “spokesbaby” Tuesday.

The company selected Kairi as the winner of its ninth annual photo search contest. She was picked from a record-breaking number of entrants -- more than 500,000 on Instagram -- Gerber said in a statement. Kairi’s family received $50,000, and the company plans to feature her on its social media accounts throughout the year.

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“Kairi was chosen because of the wide-eyed curiosity and the look of wonder we saw in her eyes,” Bill Partyka, the president and CEO of Gerber, told Today. “Her expressiveness in the winning photo reminds us of looking to the future through a child’s eyes and being excited for all that it holds.”

Kairi’s parents — mother, Ying Vue, and father, Peter Yang — told Today that they were raising her around Hmong customs. In addition to the immediate family, Kairi’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives share their North Carolina home.

“Being surrounded by all her family has been a very positive influence on Kairi’s life, especially when it comes to preserving our culture and tradition,” Vue said. “Kairi will grow up knowing how to read and write in Hmong, so that she can speak with her grandparents.”

Kairi enjoys listening to nursery rhymes, building blanket forts and playing with her dad, her parents said. She also enjoys chicken nuggets, according to Gerber, and is named after a nickname that her mother used in high school based on a character from the video game "Kingdom Hearts."

“Kairi’s positive energy and smile lights up our life,” Vue said. “She has a one-of-a-kind personality.”

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