Playboy Playmate Of The Year Is ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Alum Eugena Washington

Former ANTM contestant Eugena Washington is 2016 Playboy Playmate of the Year

Eugena Washington has gone from losing the crown on America’s Next Top Model to becoming Playboy’s Playmate of the Year. The men’s lifestyle and entertainment magazine made the announcement Wednesday on Playboy.com and at a media filled press conference at the Playboy mansion. Washington, a 31-year old South Carolina native and former America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) contestant, will receive $100,000, plus a two-year lease on a 2017 Fiat 124 Spider. She is the third black Playmate of the Year and the first one in the new non-nude format. She is also the first model to bridge both the nude and non-nude eras.

Washington is one of the few success stories coming from the now-defunct ANTM, and although she didn’t win her season (she came in third in Season 7), she hasn’t let that steer her away from a modeling career.

“This is a story and a chapter in my life to build around. I’m enjoying the ride, and right now I’m doing whatever I want to do, day by day. That’s how I live. That’s what my life is about. As long as I’m doing what I want to do, I’m happy. Right now, being a part of Playboy is what I want to do.”

She is currently signed to Elite Model Management along with several modeling agencies throughout the country. She has enjoyed several high-profile campaigns, including the Kardashian Kollection for Sears, T.J. Maxx, Clinique, and SAW Jewelry. In addition to appearing in countless runway shows and print campaigns, she has also appeared in appeared in music videos for “Nothin on You” by B.o.B, “Take You There” by Donnie Klang, and “This is the Girl” by Craig David.

When Playboy changed its format from nude to “Nearly Safe For Work” in March, some wondered how the publication would survive. The first magazine hit newsstands in 1953 (Marilyn Monroe was their first centerfold), and the trailblazing publication paved the way for other nude magazines such as Penthouse and Hustler. A major decline in subscriptions — due largely to the internet making nudity easier and quicker to access — provoked Playboy’s creative director Mac Lewis to redesign the magazine to not only appeal to a younger audience but to make it less shameful. According to Wired, the makeover has resulted in a 400 percent increase in site viewership and a modernized aesthetic that is getting a good response.

Washington isn’t a newbie, she was Playboy‘s Playmate of the Month in the December 2015 issue, and she says that posing nude wasn’t that big of a deal, but shooting for the June cover with clothing was much easier.

“It was definitely more demure, definitely more casual, more natural. And it was non-nude. I was more comfortable shooting because I could just be natural and do my own movements and be who I am.”

Yes, Eugena Washington has come a long way. Nine years after her America’s Next Top Model season ended she is still gaining opportunities, and two Playboy covers in six months must be what every aspiring model dreams of. Perhaps her next step is to follow in the footsteps of ANTM Season 22 winner Nyle DiMarco, who is currently a fan favorite on Dancing with the Stars.

Whatever she decides to do next the message is clear; Eugena Washington is beautiful and talented and certainly deserves to be the 2016 Playboy Playmate of the Year, which isn’t news to her fans who have followed her progress for the past nine years.

What do you think of Playboy’s choice for Playmate of the Year? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[John Salangsang/AP Images]