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“The wing joint known for its waitresses in low-cut tank tops and neon orange shorts is celebrating its 34th anniversary,” notes Inside Edition. “Believe it or not, it all started with just one Hooters Girl.”  

Lynne Austin is the Original Hooters Girl. Back in the early ’80s, when Austin was 22 years old and competing in a bikini contest (below left), she got an offer she couldn’t refuse. Hooters co-founder Ed Droste spotted her at the pageant” and recalls: “She epitomized that blonde, California surfer look.”

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When still-luscious Lynne recently reunited with him for the anniversary (above right), her first words upon entering the original Clearwater (FL) location were: “It’s cold as a witch’s tit in here.”  

“How are you?” Droste demanded to know. “Fine, now that my mammogram’s over,” the buxom blonde replied. “Wish we could have been there!” Ed enthused. “What did the doctor say?” asked another founder. “He was kind of vague,” Lynne laughed. “I think he was just kind of happy to be playing with them.”  

A show of hands if you can blame him?

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As Tampa Bay Online observed: “No one will ever know if Hooters would have still become the global empire had Plant City, Florida native Lynne Austin never worn the famous uniform. But there’s little doubt the original Hooters Girl certainly did her part to help launch a chain that’s grown to more than 450 restaurants as far flung as Singapore.”  

“As soon as I saw her,” Droste recalls, “I knew she had just the look we needed. Once we put her out there (below left) and put her on billboards (upper right), it just took off!”

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So much so that Royals slugger George Brett took off a night in his Hall of Fame career to try ‘to improve his average’ with awesome Austin (above right)!  

Just as the concept of Hooters originated as an April Fool’s joke doomed to fail, finding ‘The Face of the Franchise’ began on a bet: Droste boasted to his buddies that he could “convince the Clearwater beach contest winner to become the first Hooters Girl.” When that turned out to be Austin, she turned him down.  

“Ed told me I’d be famous one day and make more money than I could ever imagine, but I was skeptical,” Lynne explains. “I was climbing the corporate ladder”—at GTE as a telephone operator—but when they refused to let her off “to attend yet another bikini contest” weeks later, she quit … and called Droste.  

The first order of business was finding the uniform: Based on the outfit that “Ed’s beautiful secretary Loretta would wear while playing softball,” Austin auditioned in brown shorts and a sports shirt {rare original transparency of her initial wardrobe test below left}, which became the chosen waitress apparel.

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Happily, when “the first few days were dreadful because the place was empty,” Droste decided to switch to the Florida-themed “jogging shorts” that Lynne had sported in another wardrobe test (above right). Orange you glad he did?!  

“Fortunes changed for good when billboards featuring a scantily dressed Austin got noticed and she started making the rounds of local radio stations to drum up publicity,” below left, reports Tampa Bay Online. Her mentor Ed enthuses: “We knew she had great looks when we hired her but we didn’t realize that she had such a gift to communicate and relate to people. She is very witty and had a very tasteful sex appeal.” Taste this! (below right).

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“I’ve been lucky in that things have always landed in my lap,” Lynne looks back {don’t mind if we do!}. “You know, I was a telephone operator when I was just doing bikini contests, at my mom’s urging, and Hooters found me on the beach. And then I quit my job and became a waitress”—actually working the boards {inset, along with the billboards} for six years at the original Clearwater restaurant (below).

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Where she also starred in their suggestive TV commercials—sure to get nipples (and other ‘things’) hard:  

 

The 35C-24-35 stunner says she “literally began doing beach contests on a wing, a bikini and a prayer. Hell, my mom even bought me my first bikini.” Serving wings was next on the menu (below left) … though the bikini became optional (below right)!

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“Everyone strives to be like Lynne Austin,” announces Angie, a current waitress at the Hooters in Fairfax, Virginia. As the Washington Post profiled: “Angie is looking at a photograph of Austin—one meant as instruction, posted in the back near the locker area, which shows how a Hooters Girl is supposed to look.

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“There, under her shirt and bra, are the perfect breasts. There, in a big smile, are the perfect teeth. ‘She is the epitome,’ Angie says. ‘She is the complete package.’” And we’re prone to agree …

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Back then, Austin admits, “I wasn’t a conceited asshole, but when I walked in a room I expected everyone to look at me because I was me. That’s just what happened. I walked in a room. Everybody looked at me” (below left, posing in the black bikini bottoms also considered ahead of the orange shorts}. In fact, adds Patch.com, “Along the way Austin’s prestige grew so much at the restaurant that customers waited up to three hours just to be served by her.” Even if the cut-rate service was no frills … and no bottoms!

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“It changed my life,” Lynne told Inside Edition for its anniversary piece—while rejecting the notion that the restaurant was ‘sexist’: “I never got that feeling. I was a waitress. That’s what I did. I was just waitressing at a fun place people wanted to be at. Making money.”  

Indeed. “I went from making nothing, maybe 20 dollars a night, to 3-hour waits for me to bring you chicken wings and beer. I was bringing in $300 a night. It blew my mind.”  

And as daughter of a maker of the Navy’s signature Pershing Missiles {Sleuth’s dad happened to head up the program!}, Austin was accustomed to spending summers at Cape Canaveral—even penning an article for Hooters Magazine on the joys of tanning:

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“You see more on the beach than you do at Hooters,” Lynne shrugged. Especially if she’s the one sunning!

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By the early 1990s, the Original Hooters Girl was considered a ‘Classic’ (below left) … yet still rich—and ravishing—enough to lay around the house and stare down kinky fetish fotog Helmut Newton (below right).

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“In my 30s, I was still a pretty woman,” she reflects, “but I was busy getting married and then unmarried.”  

Specifically, she was ‘balls deep’ into major league catcher Darren Daulton—whom Philadelphia Magazine called “a major stud, hands-down the best looking member of the hell-raising, mullet-wearing, pennant-winning ’93 Phillies, and just maybe the best-looking player in franchise history” {below left with Lynne and son Zac}.

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“It was fun, but behind the fun is the stress,” she later lamented. “Baseball players are in spring training {where Austin could control the signals, above right}, ‘and then they’re going to go away for six months. Well, they’re not going to leave you hanging {available to others} for half a year—they’re going to marry your ass.”

“I had no idea that every girl would want my husband,” confesses the catcher’s consort—who “remained in Clearwater with their infant son while Darren was rarin’ to go on the road. “It’s a sore subject,” she said in early 1994 when Daulton signed a 4-year, $18.5 million contract after leading the league in RBIs—leading “some joker to scrawl ‘$9.25 million’ underneath a Hooters restaurant billboard in Jack Russell Stadium, the Phillies’ spring training site,” reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The Hooters ad featured Lynne Austin-Daulton,” the catcher’s estranged wife and referred to her presumed cut of the contract should they split {she hadn’t signed a pre-nup}.  

Laughs another icon, the original Phillie Phanatic, Dave Raymond: “I’d walk up to the billboard, get down on my knees and pretend to look up her little cutoff half shirt. At one point Darren told me to stop. But it was just too good to pass up.”  

Amazingly, Austin wasn’t: “Darren says, ‘Lynne, baseball is my mistress’” … but reportedly also hit on one in every port. “I’d be a fool to say, ‘Oh, my husband would never [cheat on me],” the Hooters honey admitted. “I hope he would figure one night is not worth 20 years. But what can I do about it, really?”  

Dump the bum—who’d go on to multiple drunk driving arrests and two brain tumors—and keep the kid (below left)!

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“When I look back at my old pictures,” she says today, “I think, ‘Wow. What a baby face.’ When I look in the mirror now, I see much a funnier, more attractive woman. Certainly not from the neck down, but I’ve lost that ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ look in my eyes” (above right). And remains well worth ‘doing’ …  

“I went out to Los Angeles for a month,” Austin admits about looking for a post-breakup break. “I did a couple of Married…with Children” (below)—in the second, confusing Al Bundy by impersonating his wife Peg.

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“After a month I was bored with walking into castings and seeing twenty girls that looked just like me: blonde hair, blue eyes and big boobs.”  

And some questioned whether hers were hers: “Rumors have circulated for years that she is the product of plastic surgery and breast enlargement,” wrote Tampa Bay Life in June 1989. “Pshaw, says the model, who has heard it all before. ‘Between 9th and 10th grade I grew to this (she puts her hands on her breasts) size. I don’t know how many times, on the back of the bus, I had to prove I didn’t stuff!”  

To quote her discoverer Droste (from earlier): “Wish we could have been there!”  

“Lynne suddenly reaches into her shirt and adjusts her brassiere to accommodate Tampa Bay’s most famous bosom,” wrote reporter Bob Andelman as Austin prepared to host her Hooters radio show years later (below left)—a popular morning-drive wakeup call. “She’s great in bed, can I say that much?” joked her cohost.

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“At 55 years old (above right) and with looks that can still turn heads {like an owl’s!},” raved a recent article—Lynne turned 56 on Tax Day last month—she remains what Ed Droste calls Hooters ‘company royalty.’ She’s still called on for promotional work.”  

“When people think of Hooters Girls,” the co-founder feels, “they think of Lynne Austin. She set the bar very high for all the 300,000+ Hooters Girls who followed. She’s a cornerstone of Hooters.”  

But a cornerstone who wants to get laid: “It’s not sexy to be over 50,” the remarried mother of four frets. “Who wants to fuck a 50 year old? I don’t even want to fuck a 50 year old and I’m married to one.”  

“I still get people that’ll say, ‘You’re pretty for your age,’ which I absolutely fucking hate,” the plain-spoken Florida fox fumes. “You know what? Do or don’t. You’re fucking pretty or you’re not.” Your verdict?

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Let's let lovely Lynne summarize her life, in this illuminating interview:

“There’s no other woman out there that can say, ‘I am the original Hooters Girl,” the one and only asserts today. “I was the first hired out of this billion dollar company”—matching, uh, wits, with some current Clearwater employees (below left).

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Indeed, her cups runneth over to this day (above right)!  

“I like me so much better now than when I was half my age,” Lynne laughs. “And there’s no other woman on the planet that can say, ‘These hams {squeezing her butt cheeks} right here are the original Hooters!”

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END of discussion.  

Next course: “The Most Famous Hooters Girls After Austin