Former ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Contestant Made Playboy Magazine History

Millions have been overly critical of the reality television competition show American Next Top Model in recent years, and despite the show’s hiccups, there have been many successes. Some have had great modeling careers and even transitioned into big-time reality television. One of which is Eugena Washington, who made history as one of three of Black Playmates of the Year in Playboy Magazine’s history.

Hugh Hefner and 'America's Next Top Model' contestant Eugena Washington; Washington made history as the third Black woman to be listed as Playboy Magazine's Playmate of the Year
Hugh Hefner and Eugena Washington | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy

She competed in Cycle 7 of ‘ANTM’

Washington is a contestant from cycle 7 of the reality competition series, which aired in 2006. She made a strong first impression at casting by telling the judges she felt the previous season’s contestants were boring. Washington stood out from the start of the competition, winning challenges early on, but she struggled to perform in photoshoots. She landed in the bottom two early on due to weak pictures. She improved from there.

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Despite performing well, the judges criticized her for having a condescending attitude. It was something that judges felt would disserve her in the industry. 

Her biggest competition during the season was Melrose Bickerstaff, whom she often butt heads with. Washington was the second runner-up in the season. She later blasted creator and judge Tyra Banks for allegedly mistreating her and other models of color during the show’s run.

Eugena Washington was the last Playmate of the Year in Playboy Magazine

Washingon continued modeling after the show. One of her biggest gigs was Playboy Magazine announced her as their 2016 pick for the highly coveted Playmate of the Year. She appeared in the magazine for the first time as the Dec. 2015 Playmate of the Month.

At the time of the cover, she made history as only the third Black model to be selected for the title. Renee Tenison was the 1990 Playmate of the Year, and Ida Ljungqvist was 2009 Playmate of the Year. 

Source: YouTube

“It’s a great time for this. The world is changing. I hope this brings different eyes to the magazine and new audiences,” Washington said in a press release at the time, per E! News. “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.”

Along with the title, she received $100,000 in prize money, as well as a two-year lease on a 2017 Fiat Spider. A never-before-seen centerfold of her shoot for the spread was released at a later date, with Washington expressing her love of nudity.

What she’s done besides Playboy and ‘ANTM’

Washington has done much in the industry since the show. Aside from her history-making moment with Playboy, she has signed with Muse Management New York, Ice Model Management Cape Town, and NEXT Models LA. She is currently with Innovative Artists. 

Her runway work has been extensive, walking in shows for designers including Anthony Franco, Christian Audigier, Kevan Hall, and Rami Kashou & Yana K. She’s also dabbled in acting and modeling for music videos, appearing in music videos for Craig David and Kano, and the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful

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