Miss Hooters International crowned as glam 19-year-old winner scoops £25k prize

Controversial bar and restaurant chain Hooters has handed out a £25,000 cash prize to its new Miss Hooters International.

The 25th annual international pageant was held in Lake Tahoe, and was won by Miami Hooter's Girl Madison Novo.

And the Brits were also represented, as Nottingham Hooters girl Cheila Almedia finished fifth – or “fourth runner up” as the Americans like to call it.

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But it wasn't all plain sailing for this year's winner.

The 19-year-old, who beat 50 other employees to pick up the cash prize, said: “When I was 12 years old in the hospital with a rare kidney failure, I was visited by Hooters Girls who lifted my spirits.

“In my upcoming role, I’m determined to help children around the world feel they aren’t alone during their battles.”

And she expanded on her issues when talking to Fox News last year.

She said: “When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I started having really bad stomach pains.

“My mum took me to the ER and it took about two years of me going in and out of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to be finally diagnosed with a couple of things.

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“They found I have a blood disorder called prothrombin gene mutation.”

“And then they diagnosed me with a gastritis disease.

“Then in between my two years, due to all the medicine that I was getting, I had unspecified kidney failure.”

And it was, strangely for a then-12-year-old girl, the Hooters girls that cheered her up, bring her food and talked to her.

“I remember hanging out with them for the first time,” she recalled “and I spent a good couple of hours with them.

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“It was nice because my mum, a single mum, was able to take a break, relax and eat some really good wings.

“They could have just dropped off the food and kept it moving, but they really took the time to sit down with me, learn what I was going through and talk to my mum.

“It made us feel at home.”

Judges for the competition included actor LaRoyce Hawkins, UFC fighter Kelvin Gastelum, podcast host Briana Chickenfry, and former Hooters Girl Lynne Austin.

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Contestants were marked on their responses to interview questions, personality and overall contribution to the Hooters brand, as well as uniform and swimsuit rounds.

The girls participated in a week's worth of events ranging from female empowerment seminars to community outreach, and they spent a morning with Sugar Pine Foundation watering 500 tree saplings in an area decimated by wildfires.

The Hooters brand in the UK has been the source of controversy in recent weeks, after the chain got approval for its second British branch to go alongside its long-standing Nottingham one.

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A new restaurant will open in Salford, Great Manchester, in within the next 12 months – despite opposition from local feminist groups and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

It was approved to at a local council meeting earlier this month, with the leader of the planning team openly stating that the complaints didn't have much to do with the restaurant itself, more to do with issues over the restaurant chain's reputation.

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