Unfortunately for Miss Andrews, she’ll already have a tough act to follow, as far as congeniality is concerned.
Meet Laura McKeeman. Tampa Bay residents may know her as a roving sideline reporter during Rays games on Fox Sports Florida.
Some also have come to know her as Miss Pinellas County.
That is, until this past weekend, when she competed against 42 other Floridians representing different Sunshine State counties at the Miss Florida 2012 pageant – and won.
“So honored to be Miss Florida 2012,” she tweeted after her victory. “Thank you all for your support and kindness. It means the world to me!”
And whatever support she gets for the next six months will mean the country to her: having been crowned this year’s Miss Florida, she will now represent the state at the 2013 Miss America Pageant in January – or roughly one month before pitchers and catchers report for the Rays 2013 season in Port Charlotte.
Statistically, McKeeman faces steep odds: With around seven dozen different Miss America Pageants held, Florida has only taken the crown twice – both times coming within the last twenty years. (Mind you, that’s without recounts.)
But think of all of the irony here: Just days before Erin Andrews makes her first appearance on Fox Sports, Laura McKeeman from Fox Sports Florida wins a beauty pageant. Not only did Andrews get her start in sports broadcasting at Fox Sports Florida, but both ladies are University of Florida alumni, with similar degrees (Andrews, telecommunications; McKeeman, broadcast journalism).
In fact, you might say that Andrews’ resemblance to McKeeman, or vice versa, is quite uncanny.
With the Miss Florida crown in her grasp, and the Miss America sash in her sights, Laura McKeeman is putting her much more nationally popular counterpart Erin Andrews on notice. In the event that Andrews’ Fox tenure happens to be a calamity – which, for the record, nobody including myself is expecting, save for one journalist, anyway - McKeeman could easily step in.
Of course, should she become Miss America, she’ll have a much different game plan for the following year. I don’t think the Miss America organization will allow her to work in a Yankees/Rays series at the Trop in between stops on her speaking tour.
While I’m sure the suits at Fox Sports would welcome the hiatus, Laura should be a viable personality for them down the road, with or without the Miss America crown.
Either way, Laura McKeeman should enjoy exposure on a national platform.
Perhaps to Erin Andrews’ chagrin.
Get to know Laura McKeeman:
Her YouTube channel (including a nine-minute reel of her work at Fox Sports)