Did a Utahn win ‘Project Runway’?

<b>Television • </b>Utah native Brandon Kee and current Utah resident Ayana Ife were the favorites, and the winner is ...

(Photo: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime) The contestants on Season 16 of “Project Runway” are (standing, from left)) Kudzanai Karidza, Kenya Freeman, Batani-Khalfani, Amy Bond, Kentaro Kameyama, Ayana Ife, Brandon Kee, Margarita Alvarez, Cha Cha, Michael Brambila and Samantha Rei. And (seated, from left) Sentell McDonald, Claire Buitendorp, Shawn Buitendorp and Aaron Myers. And (front and center) Deyonté Weather.

The Emmy-winning fashion design competition “Project Runway” declared its Season 16 winner on Thursday’s episode, and half of the four finalists — Ayana Ife and Brandon Kee — are Utahns.

SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t watched Thursday’s episode and you don’t want to know who won, stop reading now.

Kee was the odds-on favorite, and Ife was believed to be his strongest competition — but the judges declared Kentaro Kameyama the winner.

“Kentaro, you really surprised us today,” said host/judge Heidi Klum.

“I think you surprised us all,” said judge Nina Garcia.

(Photo courtesy of Barbara Nitke/Lifetime) Kentaro Kameyama and Murray native Brandon Kee have become the closest of friends competing on “Project Runway.”

The results clearly surprised Kee, the Murray native who had expressed confidence throughout the season finale. He took it hard when he finished third.

“It hurts. I thought I had it,” Brandon said tearfully. “I guess I really wanted it.

I accomplished one goal for sure, and that was to show my womenswear at New York Fashion Week, so I’ve got to pat myself on the back for that one.”

Ife, a Salt Laker who said early in the episode that she had quit her job to participate in the Lifetime reality/competition show, was more philosophical when she finished second.

Overall, I’m really really happy with everything,” she said. “And I feel like I did my absolute best. Just a couple months ago, ‘Project Runway’ was just a dream for me. And not only did I make it on, I made it so far. I was right there.

“I’m happy. I’m grateful for all of this.”

The two will join the rest of the cast on the upcoming reunion episode (Thursday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m., Lifetime) , when the contestants and mentor Tim Gunn talk about the events of this season.