Douglasville, Georgia Hooters Girl, Laiken Baumgartner, claimed top honor Saturday night at the 22nd Annual Hooters International Pageant, the first to be open to the public and held at the zMAX Dragway across from Charlotte Motor Speedway, taking home the exclusive 2018 Miss Hooters International title. Laiken was selected from a field of 80 of the most exceptional Hooters Girls from across the U.S. and around the world.
After a stunning display of camaraderie at the zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina, Laiken was honored with the coveted 2018 Miss Hooters International title and a new reign began. Since being with the company for two and a half years, Laiken has been a two-time calendar girl. When she isn’t working, you can find this avid animal lover at the Lee County Humane Society twice a week walking dogs waiting to be adopted.
A passionate and ambitious 20-year-old, Laiken scoops a $30,000 cash prize and becomes the newest face of the iconic Hooters brand. Her brand ambassador responsibilities include contributing to Hooters marketing initiatives and special events throughout the year, as well as leading the #Hooters9 Crew in cheering on NASCAR’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driver Chase Elliott.
“Being crowned Miss Hooters International is both a dream come true and an honor for me,” said Laiken. “All of us girls share a common thread – a passion for serving our Hooters guests. I can honestly say each one of us gave it our all during Pageant. I’m looking forward to representing Hooters both at home and overseas, and giving back to the brand that has afforded me so many wonderful opportunities already.”
Laiken and her fellow contestants were evaluated based on responses to interview questions, personality and overall contribution to the iconic Hooters brand, as well as swimsuit and hometown costume attire. They were selected from a pool of more than 18,000 Hooters Girls who presently work in one of the more than 425 Hooters locations worldwide. The Hooters International Pageant is the culmination of local and regional contests.
A seven-person panel of judges included Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1; Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Ford Fusion; Brittany Cartwright, former Hooters Girl and one of the stars of the hit series, Vanderpump Rules; Lynn Austin, the original Hooters Girl; Ovince Saint Preux, UFC Fighter; Mario Addison, defensive end for the Carolina Panthers; and Kim Coon, former contestant on the hit series, The Bachelor, Miss Sprint Cup and NASCAR’s Glass Case of Emotion podcast host.
The top five Hooters Girl finalists are first runner up, Rachel Swartz, Hooters of Bossier City, Louisiana; second runner up, Hannah Williams, Hooters of Las Vegas, Nevada; third runner up, Amberly Hall, Hooters of Nashville, Tennessee; and fourth runner up, Trazia Morgan, Hooters of Concord, North Carolina.
Rounding out the top 10 in alphabetical order are, Alaia Peterson, Hooters of Downers Grove, Illinois; Allison Calderon, Hooters of Miami, Florida; Jorra Stewart, Hooters of Schererville, Indiana; Mariana Sibaja, Hooters of San Jose, Costa Rica, and Michaela Holliman, Hooters of Orlando, Florida.
Additional awards went to Mariana Sibaja, Hooters of San Jose, Costa Rica, who was voted Miss World; Sidney Pickman, Hooters of Louisville, Kentucky, who was voted Miss Photogenic; Francheska Peralta, Hooters of New York, New York, who was voted Miss Congeniality; and Hailey Slobodzian, Hooters of Fort Myers, Florida, who was voted Miss Fan Favorite.
To close out the 22nd Annual Hooters International Pageant, country music singer-songwriter Jake Owen performed a special concert.
Prior to competing for the exclusive 2018 Miss Hooters International title, all 80 contestants spent a good part of the week volunteering in the Charlotte community, including sorting donations with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina as well as assembling care packages for the USO of North Carolina and Magic Kits for Victory Junction’s Reach program. Each organization was presented with a $5,000 donation.
The Hooters Girls also delivered care packages to Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute’s breast cancer patients and presented a $10,000 donation. Over the years, Hooters has raised more the $5.3 million for breast cancer research through its annual Give A Hoot campaign.