For Oak Forest teen, beauty even in not winning Hooters contest
By STEVE METSCH email@example.com June 26, 2012 9:06PM
Jessica Hauss talks about qualifying for the Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: July 28, 2012 6:13AM
Jessica Hauss did not win the 2012 Miss Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant, but she has a week of memories from Miami.
Hauss, 19, of Oak Forest, was among 101 Hooters employees who were in the pageant Saturday night at the Jackie Gleason Theater. At stake was $50,000, along with being featured in the Hooters magazine, calendar and national TV commercials.
The title went to Amanda Jemini, 21, of Boca Raton, Fla.
Hauss wanted to win, but she’s not complaining after an experience that included being on the celebrity circuit.
“We went to a club (Sunday) night and I got to meet LeBron James. We hung out with Lance Briggs. It was awesome. It was crazy hanging out with Lance Briggs. He’s hilarious,” Hauss said Monday of the Bears linebacker, who was one of the celebrity judges of the pageant. She also met Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee, another judge.
James helped the Miami Heat win the NBA championship Thursday night. He was not a judge but happened to be at the club, Hauss said.
She didn’t attend any Heat games during her week in Miami, when she was kept busy during photo shoots and promotional appearances at charity events.
“If you saw my schedule, we barely had time to breathe. They kept us busy every day. The only day I got to rest was Sunday, and it was raining,” she said.
She appeared at a charity event at the Miami Airport, visiting with members of the armed forces.
“I talked to a group of guys who were going into the Navy. They were going to Chicago, so I said, ‘I’m from there’ and I (wound up) talking with them. I think some of the girls were a little jealous,” she said.
Some of the contestants visited a children’s hospital. All were involved in photo shoots throughout the week in weather that was not very Miami-like.
“It was nicer (in Chicago) than it was there. Only the first two days were sunny,” she said.
All the activities led to Saturday night’s pageant, which was telecast on FX, a cable channel. Friends and family watched it at the Hooters in Orland Park, where Hauss waits on tables when she’s not studying for a career in sports therapy.
The Tinley Park High School graduate said she had “never been more nervous in my life” than while backstage at the pageant.
“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t do this.’ My dad told he was nervous seeing me on TV and had his fingers crossed for me,” she said.
Her father, Scott Hauss, recorded the pageant for her, and she planned to watch it as soon as possible.
While on stage, she tried to convince the judges to vote for her.
“You have to do your walk and pretty much show them your attitude. I practiced that a lot, to get it down right,” she said.
Hauss returned home Monday with so much extra luggage it cost her $150 in baggage fees.
“They gave us everything — bags, bathing suits, T-shirts, shoes, so many things,” Hauss said.
She did not return with any regrets.
“I had a great experience. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Hauss said.