Ann Ward, the awkward Texas redhead who touched off a controversy when her shockingly thin waist was featured in a television ad, emerged as a swan to win Cycle 15 of "America's Next Top Model" on Dec.1.
Ward who stands 6-foot-2 and possesses what "ANTM" host Tyra Banks once described as the world's "smallest waist" won a $100,000 Covergirl contract, representation by IMG models and the most fashion-forward prize the reality show has offered: a spread in Italian Vogue.
The shy 19-year-old, who proved remarkably photogenic all season, sobbed as Banks declared her the winner. The Dallas native said her victory was a message to everyone who bullied her for "being too tall or not being normal." "They'll be sorry they ever picked on me," she said.
Judge Nigel Barker said what set Ward apart from the competition was her original look: "I haven't seen her face before."
This, of course, was a season in which "ANTM" creator Banks sought to elevate the competition by severing ties with longtime partner Seventeen and by adding the cachet of Italian Vogue to the canvas. Banks called on fellow judge André Leon Talley of Vogue to help her bring some fashionable faces to the judges' table.
Fashion designer Roberto Cavalli joined the cast for the season finale, giving his seal of approval to Ward.
Runner-up Chelsey Hersley, 23, was shocked by the judges' choice, suggesting she had more of a chance at commercial success. "I feel cheated," she said.
As for Ward's emaciated body, Banks apologized earlier this season for the unfortunate promotion that seemed to celebrate Ward's waif-thin frame.
Banks claimed she never saw the ad before it hit the airwaves and reminded critics that the CW show has always sought to celebrate diverse ideas of beauty, inviting plus-size and petite models to compete.
Meanwhile, read our chat with last season's determined winner, Krista White.
And check out what Season 8 winner Jaslene Gonzalez has been up to lately.
And click here to find out the 10 most successful "ANTM" alumni.