No Hooters crown, but plenty of possibilities for Sandusky's Pribanic

SANDUSKY Skip the drum roll. Sandusky native Jessica Pribanic didn't win the 13th ann
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Skip the drum roll.

Sandusky native Jessica Pribanic didn't win the 13th annual Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant. That distinction went to Raechel Holtgrave, a Hooters waitress from Missouri who became $50,000 richer for placing first.

But winning isn't everything, and Pribanic, 24, a 2001 Sandusky High School graduate, walked away from the competition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with potential modeling offers and plenty of connections.

"Every year she gets more and more opportunities, which I told her is the main reason she should do it because of the exposure," said Debi Pribanic, Jessica's mother. "No matter where she travels in the world, she'll always have a job."

Pribanic said it's thrilling to just make it into the competition considering she was chosen from a field of more than 17,000 Hooters waitresses nationwide. Fewer than 1 percent of waitresses were chosen to compete.

And the coveted publicity is worth the trip alone.

"I got a lot of exposure and hopefully can get some modeling work out of it," Pribanic said. "It's a lot of self-promotion and you meet so many people. When Fox Sports Network airs the actual pageant in August, there'll be potential opportunities for work. I've landed other modeling jobs from being in the contest."

Hooters, the chicken and beer restaurant chain known for its voluptuous waitresses in tight-fitting uniforms, hosts a high-profile swimsuit competition each year.

Pribanic, who lives in Oregon, Ohio, has competed in the swimsuit competition for five years. The highest she ranked before this competition was in the top 30.

A waitress at the Hooters in Toledo going on six years, Pribanic said working for the company has opened many doors for her.

She's done a fair amount of modeling, and her picture can be found on poker chips and playing cards in Las Vegas and in Hooters pinup calendars.

But Pribanic said she's retiring from the International Swimsuit Pageant.

Looking ahead, she plans to attend law school in the fall and suspects she'll be too busy next year to prepare for the event.

But Pribanic paid her way through college by working at Hooters and modeling, and she plans to pay for law school the same way.

Besides national publicity, Pribanic said attending five pageants have instilled a powerful sense of confidence. She said she didn't even break a sweat onstage while other contestants were nervous to the core.

"You can tell the difference between the girls who were terrified up there compared to the girls who were just living it up," Pribanic said. "(Terrified girls) get that permagrin smile and look like a deer in headlights."

A photo of the confident Pribanic is featured on the Hooters slide show featured on the Web page of "The Best Damn Sports Show Period."