Playboy Picks Former ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Contestant as 2016 Playmate of the Year (Photos)

Eugena Washington is the third black Playmate of the Year, and first of the new “non-nude” era of the magazine

Tyra Banks‘ loss is Hugh Hefner‘s gain.

Eugena Washington, a 31-year-old model who once finished third on “American’s Next Top Model,” has won the title of Playboy’s 2016 Playmate of the Year.

Playboy made the announcement at an intimate gathering at the Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills area of in Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday morning.

"LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11: Playboy Founder and Editor-In-Chief Hugh M. Hefner poses with 2016 Playmate of the Year Eugena Washington at Playboy's 2016 Playmate of the Year Announcement at the Playboy Mansion on May 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)"

Hugh Hefner did not appear at the Mansion festivities, but posed with Washington later in the day (Charley Gallay)

In addition to the title and cover, she wins $100,000 and a two-year lease on a Fiat convertible.

“(It’s a) cute chunk of change,” Washington told TheWrap poolside at the Mansion.

With a modeling book that includes CoverGirl, Clinique, Lexus, Macy’s and Target, Washington is just the third black Playmate to hold the title. At 31, the tall South Carolina native is a bit older than the average Playmate with a well-honed, camera-ready personality and media savviness that will suit her — and the evolving brand — well.

Washington is the first woman to bridge the nude and non-nude eras of Playboy. She shot “nude” in 2015 and now appears NeSFW (Nearly Safe For Work, depending on your environment) in the June 2016 issue, the fourth issue of the non-nude, coffee table book era.

JUNE 2016 PLAYBOY COVER Eugena Washington (Jason Lee Parry)

The June 2016 cover, shot by Jason Lee Parry.

“The first shoot was like ‘OK, take your clothes off. You have to be nude,'” Washington says of her naked shoot experience. “It’s very played up. Very glamorous. Very ‘out there.'”

In comparison to the current book, which leaves nearly everything to the imagination and resembles a risqué fashion catalogue more than a plastic-wrapped glossy behind the counter, Washington stated a preference for the new style.

“It was definitely more demure, definitely more casual, more natural. And it was non-nude. I was more comfortable shooting because I could just be natural and do my own movements and be who I am,” she said.

"LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11: 2016 Playmate of the Year Eugena Washington signs a copy of her Playboy issue on her new All-New 2017 Fiat 124 Spider at Playboy's 2016 Playmate of the Year Announcement at the Playboy Mansion on May 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)"

Eugena gets the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider for two years (Charley Gallay)

In a continuing evolution of the brand, the annual idyllic May afternoon reveal at the Mansion was scaled back from years past. A sit-down luncheon and homecoming for Playmates from all generations of the magazine was absent this year, instead replaced with a junket style gathering that drew strong from the gossip weeklies, national news magazine shows and local L.A. broadcast news outlets.

Unlike traditional paint-by-numbers junkets at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, guests at the Mansion got tours of the surprisingly expansive zoo, which includes 50 squirrel monkeys, multiple flamingos, free-roaming peacocks, and over a dozen exotic birds that are as comfortable on your arm as on their metal hoops.

"LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11: 2016 Playmate of the Year Eugena Washington poses for a portrait during Playboy's 2016 Playmate of the Year Announcement at the Playboy Mansion on May 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)"

Washington greets herself poolside (Charley Gallay)

Despite cracks from the photo-scrum about a “for sale” sign out front, there is no Sotheby’s sign out on Charring Cross Road. A Playboy insider of multiple decades tells TheWrap that the mansion has technically always been for sale, but that the offers have never been right.

In winning this title, Washington course-corrects on her “America’s Next Top Model” loss that came in 2006-7, the first seasons on The CW network. Then, she lost out on a $100,000 contract with a cosmetics company.

She’s since gone on to model for that same company and now pockets the $100,000 from Playboy.

“Tyra’s always watching us,” Washington said of the former “Top Model” host and producer. “It makes her feel good to see us living out our dreams because she lived out hers.”

The June 2016 issue of Playboy hits newsstands on Friday, May 20.