Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 | 4:58 p.m.
It was a case of third-time luck for model and Australian boxer Avril Mathie when she won the Las Vegas International Model Search title and $50,000 in the contest at Hakkasan in MGM Grand over the weekend. Two years ago when she entered for the first time, Avril placed second, then slipped to third last year.
“My hair was a mess and my dress a disaster then, so I came back after being shot down twice knowing I could do better,” the 28-year-old told me. “Finally, I won! I am very happy. It’s a long journey back and forth from Australia to Las Vegas not to win.”
As a boxer, Avril has fought 11 fights, winning eight, one by TKO. She won a Miss Australia pageant, but because she’s married, she could not enter Miss Universe. Her husband and she run Wicked Bodz First Class Fitness Center gym on the Queensland Gold Coast. Avril will return to Australia via Brazil, where she’s having a line of gym clothes made to launch with her online-fitness videos.
“I never say never about a Hollywood modeling or television career, but for now I am concentrating on my boxing and online-fitness programs,” Avril said. While here for the first pageant, she became friends with Las Vegas boxer Ana Julaton, who took her to train with former WBO junior-welterweight champion and ex-kickboxer Chris Algieri.
Avril, who also has won Miss Swimsuit International against 74 of the globe’s best bikini models, returns to Las Vegas next summer to crown the next Model Search winner.
KEYS FOR BRYCE, KRIS: MLB hometown heroes Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant get the ultimate recognition from our Mayor Carolyn Goodman on Thursday. To honor Bryce, who attended Las Vegas High and College of Southern Nevada, for winning the National League’s MVP Award and Kris for his Rookie of the Year Award, Madame Mayor will give them official Keys to the City.
No, that doesn’t mean that they can waltz into any casino and play for free. NBC Sports anchors have speculated that when Bryce, who is an outfielder for the Washington Nationals, becomes a free agent after the 2018 season, he’ll be in line for a $500 million contract.
Kris, who graduated from Bonanza High and attended the University of San Diego, is third baseman for the Chicago Cubs.
For the second consecutive year, the Venetian and Palazzo team members accepted all-star pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s challenge to pledge $100 for each of his strikeouts during the 2015 MLB season. His strikeouts for the Los Angeles Dodgers, 301 in the regular season and 19 in the post-season, raised $32,000 from the hotel’s citizen program Sands Cares. Clayton’s foundation assists at-risk children.
GAZ’s WINNING VIDEO: The wacky, antic-filled web series “The Gazillionaire,” which chronicles the beginnings of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, was named “Best Web Video” at the 2015 Digital Media Awards. The 10-episode web series starred The Gazillionaire and his former personal assistant Penny Pibbets launched on YouTube in September 2014.
Zappos chief Tony Hsieh, magician The Amazing Johnathan and yours truly appeared in cameo roles of the video series, which tracked the troubles dealt with by The Gazillionaire when actor and magic aficionado Neil Patrick Harris refused to be the show’s nightly host.
As is to be expected from the foul-mouthed Gazillionaire, he didn’t take too kindly to the award: “Sounds stupid, a waste of time and not a real thing. My assistant just told me I paid for the whole thing. I wouldn’t doubt it was the only web series in Las Vegas, so this award is absolute crap.”
FRANK’S SECOND STAR: The Walk of Fame star for Frank Marino, our Strip’s longest-running headliner, is to be transplanted. It will move from outside the Riviera, which closed in May, to a new home outside Paris Las Vegas. Frank, who produces and stars in “Divas Las Vegas” at the Linq Hotel, is the only artist with two stars on the Strip.
One is in front of the Linq where “Divas” is performed nightly, and now the transplanted one at Paris, another Caesars Entertainment property. Frank also has been honored with a Key to the City, street that bears his name and mayoral proclamation for “Frank Marino Day” on Feb. 1, 2015.
Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler brought in his band and crew totaling 25 for an unexpected late-night dinner at Elizabeth Blau’s Honey Salt after their private corporate show Tuesday night.
“Rock of Ages” at the Venetian welcomed the Miss Universe contestants and their chaperones with a meet-and-greet after their performance.
UFC star Chris Weidman treated a large group of friends to dinner at celebrity chef Barry S. Dakake’s N9NE Steakhouse in the Palms.
UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste took her girlfriends to dinner at Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse in The D Las Vegas Hotel downtown where cowboys by the busload also stopped into Longbar to support rodeo champion Lewis Field, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
It turned out to become a fundraiser when The D owner Derek Stevens said he would match sales dollar-for-dollar of every drink sold from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., with proceeds helping Lewis with his medical expenses.
UFC star Rashad Evans was spotted at Lavo Casino Club in Palazzo watching football games while ordering the Oreo Zeppole dessert. Once fans spotted and mobbed him for photos, he even got on the mic to talk to the crowd.
2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo cowboys mingled with fans during country singer-songwriter Justin Adams’ show at Double Barrel Roadhouse in Monte Carlo.
The “Christmas in Las Vegas” special for Showbiz Network with Mark Giovi and Genevieve Dew is at Veil Pavilion at Silverton Casino Lodge.
Dutch trio Yellow Claw is at Surrender Nightclub in Steve Wynn’s Encore.
Ekoh, Avalon Landing, Almost Normal and Greg Michael Davis perform a Las Vegas music showcase at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel.
We preview the New Year’s Eve America’s Party and fireworks program of midnight mayhem along the Strip, plus the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant preliminaries in words, photos and video.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.