Layla El wins the 2006 $250,000 Diva Search
Diva Search Final photos
The WWE fans have voted, and Layla El has been named the winner of the 2006 $250,000 Diva Search. The latest addition to the sexiest women on television has won a one-year contract with WWE. After being crowned a WWE Diva at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City Wednesday night, Layla spoke exclusively to WWE.com.
“I want to say to the WWE fans, I love you guys. You guys have booed me from the beginning, loved me, cheered for me, made me puke in the toilets, made me so nervous to go out there. But you have helped me grow. You have shown me that I am a strong person. And not only that, I have so much appreciation for you guys, for showing me so much love, so much support, and just being there for me,” Layla said.
Earlier in the evening, the Diva Search finalists arrived in style by limousine to New York City’s Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. Once inside, they were greeted by a crowd of eager WWE fans packed in the standing room only venue.
The three finalists – Layla, Jen England and J.T. Tinney – competed in a sexy lingerie contest. The WWE fans in the Hard Rock Cafe cheered on the finalists, but there was an obvious favorite from the start – Layla. Host Todd Grisham named Layla the winner of the lingerie contest. Shortly thereafter he announced the first finalist eliminated – J.T.
J.T. told co-host, WWE Diva and 2005 Diva Search winner, Ashley, “It was a tough competition, but I’m not going too far. I will be in the WWE and I will be one of your Divas.”
Backstage, WWE.com spoke exclusively with J.T. immediately after her elimination.
“I’m shocked and surprised at the same time. It was a tough competition. Anyone could have won at this point. I’m happy to be where I am right now. And like I said, I plan on being a part of WWE. I’m definitely going to try for a contract. That’s ultimately what I’m looking for,” J.T. said.
“Thank you guys so much, you guys have been awesome. All the support has kept me together through this competition and pushed me to the No. 3 spot, so all my love goes to you guys. Thank you,” she said.
WWE.com also had the opportunity to speak to J.T.’s fiancé, Mike Jackson, whom she met 1½ years ago.
“I’m pretty devastated. She’s a strong person. She’s a beautiful girl. She’s got a lot of fans out there, and they’ve proven that. I’m really surprised. I’m sure she’s really surprised, but [Layla and Jen] are lovely girls, and you know, it’s tough competition. Hopefully WWE offers her a contract still. Hopefully,” Mike said.
Back on stage, the final two – Layla and Jen – competed in a bikini arm wrestling contest. Todd Grisham told the ladies to “assume the position,” and within seconds, Jen won.
“We just found out who the toughest is. But I have a little surprise for you guys. I’d like to see who the sexiest is,” Ashley said, before asking the Diva hopefuls to make out with Todd for 20 seconds each.
Jen went first, gave Todd a little kiss and gave him a sexy dance. Then Layla has her way with Todd, throwing him on the ground and doing a split on top of him.
“I don’t know if that was making out but it sure was good,” Ashley said.
Layla and Jen did a dance for Ashley, too, and then got their groove on together to the cheers of the WWE fans in the crowd.
Then, it was the moment of truth. As the WWE fans in the crowd chanted, “Layla! Layla!” over and over, Todd delivered the good news to the newest WWE Diva, the crowd favorite, Layla. In tears, she fell to her knees, and then ran down the catwalk to the crowd of WWE fans for some hugs.
“Welcome to the family, Layla. Welcome to WWE,” Ashley exclaimed. “You’re a Diva!”
Layla received her winnings – a giant check for $250,000 from WWE, which she placed on the ground to lay on top of and hug.
“Thank you for voting for me. Thank you so much. I will not let you down,” Layla said to the WWE fans.
Backstage after the show, WWE was able to talk to both Layla and runner-up, Jen.
“I’m in shock, deep shock. It really has not set in. I’m shaking, but I’m also so grateful. I can’t believe how much love I got, how much love I got here from New York. I’m just so appreciative of this moment, and I know this moment will be a big part of my life, and … I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say. It’s the first time ever that I am at a loss for words,” a very emotional, choked up Layla said.
As for the other Diva Search competitors, Layla said she has nothing but love and respect for them.
“They made me work extra hard because they were such great competitors and they were all very strong in every single way. I wish them all the best. I love them no matter what. They’ll always have a friend in me,” she said.
Runner-up, Jen, promises this isn’t the last WWE fans have seen of her.
“I’ll be working with WWE, for sure. I really want it. So definitely,” she told WWE.com.
“I’m just really, really happy for Layla. She’s actually a really sweet girl. The competition was really tough, and you know, any of us could have taken it,” Jen said.
Jen went on to say that what she’d miss most about the Diva Search competition are the friends she made.
Friends, indeed. Jen was so happy to see her friend win, she rushed off, mid-interview, to see Layla become the next WWE Diva.
“The girls, we have really good … can I watch her win? I’m sorry…” Jen said, her emotions taking over, as she ran off.
Backstage, Jen and J.T. waited for Layla to come off stage, and greeted the new WWE Diva with smiles and hugs.
The WWE fans at the Hard Rock Cafe were pleased with the voting results.
“Layla deserves it. She’s sexy. She looks like she is dedicated. I’m glad she won it. She deserves it,” said Romeo Grosvenor of Toronto.
“This was just fantastic. Layla did the best stuff out there. I was cheering her name along with everyone else. As you can hear, I lost my voice,” said Dave Peragallo of New York City. “She has the intensity. She has the wildness. She has the persona. She has beauty, of course the beauty.”
“Layla is great. Actually, all three of them are great,” said Jennifer of New Jersey. “They’re all winners in my eyes. I like Layla because she has a lot of personality.”
Stay tuned to WWE.com for an exclusive interview with Layla, the winner of the 2006 $250,000 Diva Search.