MTSU student Crystal Rhoads (far right) competed in the 16th annual Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant last week in Miami. (Photo submitted)
A couple of weeks ago, Middle Tennessee State University nursing student and local Hooters employee Crystal Rhoads competed in the 16th annual Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant in Miami.
She was one of 101 contestants from around the world to take part in the event at the Fillmore inside the Jackie Gleason Theater.
For the 22-year-old rising sophomore, who currently has a 3.7 GPA, Rhoads had several new experiences throughout the week-long event, like competing in a pageant and being one of six selected out of a regional pool of 35 women to head to the Sunshine State for the June 23 event.
"I cried when I found out they picked me to go to Miami," Rhoads said in a July 2 interview before her shift at the restaurant that evening. "I tried the year before, but I did not make it."
She also learned what it meant when the artists at the event said, "It's time to do your hair and makeup."
The company's Regional Promotions Manager Shannon Brace said they work to get the ladies prepared for the event each year.
"We try to prepare the girls as much as we can," Brace said.
Another new experience for her was flying down to Miami to take part in the festivities. You see, this was the first time Rhoads had even flown on a plane.
"It was nerve-racking at first," Rhoads said. "I did not know it was going to shake when it first took off. Once we got into the air, it was not too bad."
Once all of the participates arrived in Miami for the pageant it was not all fun and games for the ladies because they had to prepare for the event itself.
For four days straight, Rhoads was busy from early morning to late that night. She had everything from getting hair and make-up done, making appearances for the company and rehearsals for the event itself.
"It was non-stop, our schedule went from 4 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.," Rhoads said.
This was also her first trip to Miami, but her schedule did not allow her to do much sight-seeing around the city.
The company had the ladies in the event on a midnight curfew. However, she enjoyed the hotel, Fountain Blue, where she stayed in throughout the week. Also, Rhoads had the chance to make new friends with some of the other competitors.
"I met so many girls, they were so nice," Rhoads said. "We exchanged phone numbers and Facebooks."
As for the event itself on June 23, which was shown on cable network FX, it was the first time she had ever been on television.
"It was amazing," Rhoads said. "There were so many girls there, and you just feel lucky to do something like that. It was kind of crazy to see yourself on television, since I had never been on television before."
Back here in Murfreesboro, the local Hooters restaurant threw a big party the night of the event, including her fellow co-workers wearing crowns, and putting out the word for the customers to vote for Rhoads during the event.
"It was a bonus to have the customers see the UFC fight, and the pageant on the same night," Brace said, adding the crowd was huge.
Rhoads did not win any awards that night, but she said she enjoyed experience of being in the event.
"It was really fun," Rhoads said. "It was a great accomplishment to be a part of the top 100 girls in the world."