Eugena Washington also goes home with a $100,000 cash prize to go with her new sports car

Model-actress Eugena Washington has been named Playboy’s 2016 Playmate of the Year, and among the prizes the come with this prestigious honor is a two-year lease on a 2017 Fiat 124 Spider. The 31-year-old “America’s Next Top Model” alumni is the first Playmate of the Year after Playboy decided to do away with full nudity. In addition to taking home the 124 Spider, Washington also received $100,000 in prize money.

The Playmate of the Year award itself is impressive considering how many celebrities have launched their careers on the back of the award. But what really caught our eye was Washington being given the keys to the 124 Spider. As many of you know, the 124 Spider isn’t exactly a new model for Fiat. It first hit the road in 1966 – 13 years after Marilyn Monroe appeared on the centerfold of Playboy – as a 2+2 roadster that was based on the platform of its coupe counterpart. While it didn’t have the kind of success that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has had, the 124 Spider was a relatively successful model for Fiat, lasting 16 years in the market before production stopped in 1982. It took 34 years for the model to return, but all that time off didn’t do anything to stain the 124 name as exemplified by Playboy awarding a 124 Spider to its newest Playmate of the Year.

The Italian sports car should make for good company for the bunny, who will be featured on the cover of Playboy’s June 2016 issue to go with a 10-page pictorial inside the magazine. It’s unclear if Washington will be able to parlay this award with a stint as a brand ambassador for Fiat, but if you think about it, it’s a move that could make sense for the Italian automaker as it could capitalize on Washington’s Playmate of the Year title and appeal to a large swath of men who are in the market for a new and affordable sports car.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

To be honest, I was surprised to hear that Fiat and Playboy had some kind of partnership, but the more I thought about it, the more it actually made sense. And the more it made sense, the more I realized that Fiat, specifically, would do well for itself to actually take advantage of this exposure to reach out to a potentially big market for both the 124 Coupe and the 124 Spider.

It goes without saying that the male demographic represents a big chunk of Playboy’s market. In some vein, the same can be said for the Fiat 124 Spider. So by giving Eugena Washington a two-year lease on a 124 Spider, the exposure that comes with a news item like that will definitely reach the male audience. I actually did a small test of my own and forwarded the news to a couple of my friends. Most of them understandably noticed Washington first, but just as quick as they did, their attention was immediately diverted to the 124 Spider. One buddy even asked me what that model was and when I told him it was a Fiat sports car, the immediate response was “Fiat has a sports car? It looks sick!”

I don’t know if that’s going to be a universal reaction, but the point I’m making is that as a relatively new entrant into a market that has no shortage of competition, the 124 Coupe and the 124 Spider need to do something that’ll make them stand out. Having the reigning Playmate of the Year does that and as much attention as Washington is deservedly getting, the same can be said for the 124 Spider. The question now is will Fiat actually do it. That’s a question that I don’t have an answer too, but if I were Fiat and there’s a potential for this exposure to be magnified with Washington’s presence, I’d seriously consider tapping her in some capacity to promote the sports car.

Fiat 124 Spider

2017 Fiat 124 Spider High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the Fiat 124 Spider here.

Press Release

Eugena Washington, an accomplished model and actress from Palmdale, California, has been named Playboy’s 2016 Playmate of the Year. Along with her title, Washington receives $100,000 in prize money and a two-year lease on the all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider.

Reviving the storied nameplate, the all-new 2017 Fiat 124 Spider brings its classic Italian styling and performance to a new generation. Paying homage to the original 124 Spider nearly 50 years after its introduction, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider delivers the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology and safety combined with iconic Italian design.

Washington is featured on the cover and a 10-page pictorial inside Playboy’s June 2016 issue. Click here for more from the May 11 announcement.

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