For a title like Miss Hooters International, the 16th annual pageant held Saturday at the Fillmore Miami Beach has been pretty local lately. Amanda Jemini of Boca Raton kept the title of Miss Hooters International in South Florida by beating top-five finishers Morgan Whitworth (Louisville, Kentucky), Victoria Brown (Hollywood, California), Juliete Cabrera (Miami), and Tyler Suess (Rockford, Illinois). She took the title from another local -- last year's winner and Fort Lauderdale native Lindsey Way.
"This past year has been the best year of my life," Way said just before handing off the crown.
You can pretty much count on two things in South Florida -- beautiful weather and even more beautiful women. Saturday's competition is testament, but beauty wasn't exclusive to South Florida.
"Any one of the 100 contestants could have won," said Jason Weissbein, who watched the competition. "No one would have any grounds to complain, selecting from such abundant beauty."
The competition, which is Hooters' biggest event of the year, is also a chance to give back to their employees and the community. Dick Vitale was on hand to accept a $200,000 check to the V Foundation for cancer research.
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In addition to Vitale, no one was more grateful than the competitors themselves, who often work shifts to make ends meet on their way to successful careers. Jemini, who is the fifth Florida native to win in the competition's 16 years, wants to become a well-known personality in the field of communications. She hopes to one day open her own public relations firm and continues to donate her time to animal rescue.
"Hooters has really been there for me," Jemini said following the competition. "Working there, I've learned so much and had so many opportunities open up for me."
In addition to the $50,000 first-place prize, runnerup Suess received $25,000, and winners of separate titles each got $2,000. Jenell Hendricks of Champaign, Illinois, won Miss Congeniality. Miami native Cabrera, whose third-place finish garnered booing from the crowd, handed over her title of Miss Photogenic to Jamie Gunnels of Columbus, Ohio.