Coppertone Girl Sweeps McMahon Hall University of Washington Sign Contest

My recollection of the details of this whole story is kinda fuzzy with the passage of time, but I still remember the gist of it. Pls send me an Email if you were there and remember more than I do.

I attended the University of Washington for 4 years (1980-1984) and lived in the McMahon Hall Dorms during that time. My roommate Jim Oliver did handstands at McMahon Hall on the railing of our 7th floor balcony and had dated the daughter of the PGA commissioner and got a hold of an actual billboard of The Coppertone Girl with the beautiful Debra Jensen. We patched it all together and put her on wooden slats as can be seen below ... just in time for University of Washington Sign Contest held annually at the Homecoming Game; which is open to call, but "sponsored" by the Greeks.

Now, remember that the Greek System tended to RULE in events of this nature, especially at sporting events. They did the sign contest before the game started (notice the empty stands across the way) and there were about 20 entries ... all from the Greek Houses ... except ours. The Sororities tended to have "nice" entries (notice the "Cardinal Crunchies" behind the Coppertone Girl) whereas the Frats tended to be a bit raunchier (notice the sign to the left of the Coppertone Girl ;-). The sign contest was taken quite seriousely by the Greeks, as each house cheered for themselves but not for the others, so there was a smattering of applause as the MC walked down the entries.

We were near the end (intentionally) and kept ours rolled up until the MC came down to ours and asked what "house" we were from - we replied we were from the Dorms - McMahon Hall - and he kinda motioned/implied that we weren't elgible for the sign contest and started to move on. But then we unrolled the Coppertone Girl ... and the crowd went WILD!!!!

The MC (obviousely from the Greek system) didn't seem to like us too much, but he finished the last few entries ... and then announced there was a tie between three entries ... but not ours! The crowd did NOT like this, and with a little extra urging from us, he conceded that our entry was also in the run-off. Needless to say, based on audience applause, we smoked 'em in the run-off. I recall our prize was 100 coupons good for a hot-dog, chips, and a drink at some local hot dog diner. However, the best part was beating the Greeks at "their" contest! ;-)

BTW, this particular football game is also noteworthy for another event that happened at it - the First Wave at a stadium - you can read more about it here.

Epilogue: First, for those who get "uptight", yes, this was blatant sexism. We actually won the sign contest the following year too; using a more traditional entry depicting star kicker Chuck Nelson. And oh yeah, what happened to the Coppertone Girl? Well, she hung on the wall of our 7th floor McMahon cluster for a year or so, and is now rolled up in my basement gathering dust ... but one of these days when it's a good time to pull it out, I'll do so!

2007 Update: Got an Email from her family with picture - scroll down to see the Coppertone Girl still looking great 25 years later!

Coppertone Girl unveiled at University of Washington Sign Contest

Coppertone Girl unveiled at University of Washington Sign Contest

Coppertone Girl unrolled in the stands

Coppertone Girl unrolled in stands

Coppertone Girl at the house - I have a better deck design now!

Coppertone Girl at house

In the first sign contest picture, Jim Oliver is holding the left side of the Coppertone Girl, I think it is Dave Soukup who is semi-hidden, Larry Blaine is wearing the dawg hat, and that's me in jeans checking out our poster. I'm not sure who the other people are. In the second pictures, that's Larry holding her on the left and you can barely see me on the right - a shot from a similar angle ran in the next day's paper. The third shot is a little later - notice the addition of Rose Bowl and includes Larry again, Karl Hardquist, and Scott Kercher.

Debra Jensen's son sent me this picture of him and the CopperTone Girl - still looking great in 2007!
He says his Mom enjoyed seeing the famous billboard and sends her best to all the College Kids

Coppertone Girl 2007