By Mary Buckheit
Page 2

It's official. Sound the trumpets, blare your horns, roll out the red carpet and kill the fatted calf. Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Amanda Beard has officially swept this year's Hottest Female Athlete competition.

All hail the queen.

We finished tallying the votes in the wee hours of the night and the editors immediately sent me to inform Amanda of the good news. I'd hoped to make the announcement Publishers Clearing House-style, but a Nor'easter at The Worldwide Leader proved too much for the Page 2 prize patrol paddy wagon, so a phone call had to suffice.

Heather Mitts
Proof positive that Page 2 readers have good taste in Hot Athletes

We wanted to fly Amanda up to Bristol for a celebratory photo shoot, too, but Amanda bowed out, refusing to accept the polar-plunge clause we tried to sneak into her contract. Icy photos aside, we're willing to compromise for a champ like this.

So, over the phone, we grilled Amanda over a fire of Burning Questions that the hottie handled with ease. Today, capped with a crown, Amanda officially assumes the throne: Page 2's 2005 Hottest Female Athlete.

* * * * *

1. All right, so you can swim. But are you prepared to take on the rigorous responsibilities required of Page 2's hottest female athlete?

Amanda Beard: Umm … Geez. What are the responsibilities?

Oh you know, shaking hands, kissing babies. The world tour, the book signings ...

Oh, of course. I can handle that!

How did you find out about the contest?

My agent told me first, he was really into all this. And then, all my guy friends started telling me about it.

Uh oh. Hold on. Did your boys stack the votes? Do we need to investigate?

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  • No, no. I don't think so. I didn't even ask who they voted for. There were some beautiful girls on there. I'm not sure if my friends even voted for me, they just told me about the contest.

    Did you log on and check it out for yourself?

    Yeah, I did. I had to see what pictures you guys were using.

    Did you vote?

    I voted in the first round. There were a couple of my swimming girls in the running then. I had to vote for them

    Did you vote for yourself?

    Eeee, I think I did. Is that OK?

    Yeah, that's allowed, it shows you want it! We like that.

    OK. Well, I think I voted for myself and all the swimmers.

    2. Who do you think was the hottest female athlete on our list?

    Well, the Hawaiian girl who did the IronMan. She is REALLY beautiful!

    Lokelani McMichael. She's the one you just trounced in the finals.

    I know. I can't believe it. She is extremely beautiful.

    Have you checked out the men's competition?

    I did. I voted for the race car drivers and then ...

    3. Hold on. Are you a NASCAR fan?

    Yeah!

    Well, I'd have to read the fine print, but I think we can take your crown away on account of such a mortal transgression.

    What? C'mon. You guys put Kasey Kahne on there ... although I don't think he made it past the first round.

    Amanda Beard
    All hail the 2005 queen.

    Did you vote for Kasey Kahne?

    Yes! I think he is very nice looking!

    Ugh. He's funny looking.

    No way!

    If you say so. I've actually only seen that one picture of him. Maybe we didn't use his good side.

    Well, he's great.

    4. Well, he's cut. It's curious. This is the fourth time we've held this contest, and you are the third winner who has won Olympic gold. So is the Olympic Village just a hotbed of hotties, or what?

    Ha! I know what you're getting at! You'd think that it would be a great place to meet people, right? But whenever I'm there -- before and during the competition -- the beautiful people are, like, the furthest thing from my mind.

    You're all bidness.

    Yeah, exactly. I'm just focused. And then, when I'm done, I'm not really hanging out in the Village that much.

    So you don't have any scandalous stories for us?

    Ha ha. No! Not on my end. I'm sure there are thousands out there, but I don't know too many of them. Crazy Olympians.

    5. Do you pal around with your Olympic Page 2 predecessors, Jennie Finch and Heather Mitts?

    Well, I know both of them, actually. Not really well, though.

    Which Olympic sport has the best-looking athletes?

    In the pool
    Everything is thumbs-up for Amanda these days.

    For the ladies, I really do think that there are some beautiful female swimmers. I've got to go with that. For the guys, male water polo players are the best.

    Will you only date guys who shave their legs?

    Ha. No. I'm used to that, but it's not a turn-on to me.

    6. What's the bigger honor: ESPN's Hottest Female Athlete, or appearing in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition?

    Well, here's my thought. They are both definitely amazing honors. But, it's so great to be affiliated with ESPN. It's such a respectable name. It's huge. I was down in Orlando at ESPN The Weekend, and everybody was so good to me. I watch "SportsCenter" every morning.

    Ah c'mon. Don't patronize me. You already won.

    No, I'm serious. This is a huge honor in my book.

    All right. I mean, of course I have to agree. Would you dare take a lap in the suits you sported for SI?

    Umm, the bikinis for the swimsuit edition? Swim in them? Umm ... noooo. Maybe a very slow lap. But even that may be dangerous.

    7. So, ESPN and SI aside, you're just a college student at the University of Arizona.

    Yep.

    Just a college kid with her own house.

    Well, I'm in college, but I also have a full-time job.

    My best friend played soccer in college. Her standard pregame meal was a Mountain Dew and a bowl of clam chowder. True story.

    Eww! Clam chowder?! Before a game? Ugh, that's disgusting. I am a HUGE Red Bull fan. I love it.

    What's your snack before you jump in the pool?

    Well, I'd definitely say, stay away from clam chowder! That's gross. I personally don't usually eat any time in that two hours before I swim. Then, about 45 minutes before my race, I'll have two Red Bulls.

    I personally enjoy Red Bull as pregame refreshment for a night on the town.

    Oh yeah. It depends on what my night's going to look like. Sometimes, it's just Red Bull. Other times, I might supplement some other things in there. Depends on the party.

    Ever throw any ragers at that house of yours?

    Not really. I have too many things in my house that people would probably like to take.

    What? A few gold medals? C'mon. College kids don't want those. They want Ramen and quarters for laundry.

    Ha, well. I don't really have any huge parties. I usually just have a bunch of people over and my house is like the pre-place before we head out to the bars. I actually have a Red Bull refrigerator -- like the ones they have in the stores that lights up on top.

    You have one of those in your pad?

    Yep! I actually have two of them.

    Two? That's a lot of Red Bull.

    Well, one for regular and one for sugar-free.

    8. That's our queen! The hostess with the mostest! So which is the bigger party school: U of A or ASU?

    Well, ASU probably has more places to go out to, but I think the Wildcats could party Arizona State under the table.

    And that, folks, may be our next competition here on Page 2.

    I could be a judge ... or a contestant! Wherever you need me!

    Who would draw a bigger crowd? You, or U-of-A alum and former Page 2 Hottest Female Athlete Jennie Finch?

    A.J.
    So, Jennie, is it true blondes have more fun?

    Oh no! That's an awful question! I don't know. I think she stands out because of her blonde hair and everything. I kind of blend in with my dark hair, you know? I think you see me around more than her because she's not here too much. But when she is, she definitely stands out.

    What was she like in college? You never held her feet for a frat-party keg stand?

    No, no. I've only met her like twice. I didn't even know her while she was here.

    See! That's what I'm talking about! Nobody knew Jennie before she was Page 2's Hottest Female Athlete. Now look at her! She's blowing up! Look out, Amanda! You're next! Jennie won this competition and then moved on to broadcasting the College World Series on ESPN. Heather Mitts won and now writes columns for ESPN.com. So Page 2 is obviously a launching pad. What job would you like to have here at The Worldwide Leader?

    Well, right now I'm working at getting my degree in retail and I'm anxious to get more involved in the fashion side of things. I'd love to get involved in design.

    You could design Jennie and Heather's outfits as they head into the broadcasting booth.

    Sure! I'd love to!

    You sure you don't want to commentate? What sports can you cover?

    I like basketball. And, I know you made fun of me, but I really like NASCAR.

    Wow, Amanda. You're serious about this?

    Yeah.

    9. You didn't host a Daytona 500 party in that house of yours, did you?

    No, I was actually on the road. But I did watch it from my hotel.

    Do you have NASCAR paraphernalia in your house? Is that what you are worried about being snagged? Leather jackets? Model cars?

    No, no, no, no! I'm not a rednecky type of fan. I just like going to the races and ...

    Going to the races!

    Well, I don't sit in the stands! I don't think I would want to sit in the stands. There are some shady people up there! The ones I've been to ... I've actually been in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s pit, so ...

    Is Junior your favorite?

    Yes, Dale Jr. and Kasey Kahne.

    Do you like Jeff Gordon?

    No.

    Do you drive fast?

    No, but I'm going to driving school to get my license because I'm actually going to be racing in the Celebrity Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix.

    No way! I can't believe where this conversation has gone.

    I know, right? I know! It's true.

    Who are you going to be racing against?

    I don't know everybody, but I think Karl Malone is one of the other drivers.

    How on earth did you get into this?

    Well, I know Toyota is a USA Swimming sponsor, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. I'm not sure of the details, or how I was chosen, but I am totally stoked about it! It's the first weekend in April, I think.

    We'll be all over that. Just be careful. You're ours now.

    I'm all yours.

    10. When you were 14 years old, standing on the podium in Atlanta, did you ever imagine that you would someday become ESPN's Hottest Female Athlete?

    NO! Absolutely not! Never. Are you kidding! I feel like I was a really goofy-looking kid with really big teeth and skinny and gangly and nothing special.

    But people adored you!

    Because I had that whole young and wholesome little look to me.

    Well, you might not have that any more, but we at Page 2 have never been ones to discriminate.

    Oh, thank you.

    So, finally, what do you want for a prize? I guess a medal wouldn't be much of a novelty?

    Umm ... like a trophy or a plaque or something?

    What don't you have any of? What could stand for this monumental accomplishment?

    Well! We could get me a race car! A black one!

    A black race car with bikinis and Page 2 logos all over it? You know, the editors just might go for something like that.

    Mary Buckheit is an editor at ESPN.com and can be reached at mary.j.buckheit@espn3.com.



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