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Tyra Banks‘ loss is Hugh Hefner‘s gain. Eugena Washington, a 31-year-old model who once finished ...

Playboy Picks Former ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Contestant as 2016 Playmate of the Year

By 18:09:00

Tyra Banks‘ loss is Hugh Hefner‘s gain.

Eugena Washington, a 31-year-old model who once finished third on “American’s Next Top Model,” has won the title of Playboy’s 2016 Playmate of the Year.

Playboy made the announcement at an intimate gathering at the Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills area of in Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday morning.

Hugh Hefner did not appear at the Mansion festivities, but posed with Washington later in the day (Charley Gallay)

In addition to the title and cover, she wins $100,000 and a two-year lease on a Fiat convertible.

“(It’s a) cute chunk of change,” Washington told TheWrap poolside at the Mansion.

With a modeling book that includes CoverGirl, Clinique, Lexus, Macy’s and Target, Washington is just the third black Playmate to hold the title. At 31, the tall South Carolina native is a bit older than the average Playmate with a well-honed, camera-ready personality and media savviness that will suit her — and the evolving brand — well.

Washington is the first woman to bridge the nude and non-nude eras of Playboy. She shot “nude” in 2015 and now appears NeSFW (Nearly Safe For Work, depending on your environment) in the June 2016 issue, the fourth issue of the non-nude, coffee table book era.

The June 2016 cover, shot by Jason Lee Parry.

“The first shoot was like ‘OK, take your clothes off. You have to be nude,'” Washington says of her naked shoot experience. “It’s very played up. Very glamorous. Very ‘out there.'”

In comparison to the current book, which leaves nearly everything to the imagination and resembles a risqué fashion catalogue more than a plastic-wrapped glossy behind the counter, Washington stated a preference for the new style.

“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,” she said.

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