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ESPN's Newest SportsCenter Anchor Is A Former Beauty Pageant Winner

In early February, ESPN announced that Laura Rutledge, who had previously only hosted SEC Nation and worked the sideline for college sporting events, would be given the honor of anchoring SportsCenter in place of Cari Champion for a week. It looks like the network liked what they saw - because since, she's been teaming up with Nicole Briscoe a great deal during the day for the network.

So who is Laura Rutledge and how did she wind up likely securing a SportsCenter anchor role?

Rutledge, whose maiden name is Laura McKeeman, went to the University of Florida. She told back in 2012 that she initially wanted to get into news, but when the only open radio slot was for sports, she jumped on it. She explained how she parlayed her gig on that radio show into a job at FOX.

One day, in my junior year, I had been up late studying for a big American history test, so I hadn't done any preparation for the show. We were talking about Tim Tebow, would he be a dual-threat quarterback in the NFL? And someone from Fox was driving through Gainesville and heard me and called the radio station. He had never seen me. He just liked my voice, I guess, and what I was saying. He offered me a job, and I worked full time for Fox all through my senior year, doing radio and writing for their Web page. That call certainly had nothing to do with how I look.

Rutledge achieved fame by winning the title of Miss Florida 2012. In the same interview, she said she didn't have any interest in beauty pageants until her friends signed her up for one in 2010.

I entered my first pageant unintentionally, in 2010. I was 20, a junior in college, and some friends signed me up for the Miss University of Florida pageant. I didn't want to do it. I had never really seen a beauty pageant, but I had all these stereotypes of what they were. But they told me about the community service, and about the scholarship money, so I thought okay. And I won first runnerup, $1,000.

After working as a sideline reporter at FOX, she moved on to the SEC Network for ESPN in 2014.

She married Josh Rutledge, a minor league baseball player currently with the San Francisco Giants, in 2013.

It seems likely you'll be seeing more of her on SportsCenter.