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‘Miss Drunk’ Contest Is Held in Thailand

January 17, 2003

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Most people would hate to be called a drunk, but Thailand’s Arunothai Sriaran is wearing the epithet like a crown.

Arunothai was named ``Miss Drunk″ at a contest Thursday to promote Thai wines after downing five shots and walking a zigzag path between two rows of wine bottles without knocking them down.

``I was not drunk. Only a little bit dizzy. I was fine and refreshed after a cup of coffee and washing my face,″ Arunothai told The Associated Press on Friday.

``The local wine is rather sweet ... like orange juice,″ said Arunothai, a 36-year-old wine seller who defeated 14 other female rivals by completing the obstacle course in seven seconds after putting down five pegs of wine. A peg is roughly 0.1 liters, or less than a quarter pint.

To make the course harder, the contestants were dressed in traditional Thai dresses of heavy silk finery including golden headgear.

For her troubles, Arunothai won 5,000 baht (US$120) prize and the title of ``Miss Meri,″ named for the female protagonist of a Thai folk story, Phra Rot-Meri, who was tricked into getting drunk. In contemporary vocabulary, Meri either means liquor or a drunk woman.

The aim of the contest _ held by a private company _ was to promote Thai products and encourage people to stop drinking foreign whiskey.

The contest went ahead despite protests by some Thai senators who called it a disgrace to the dignity of Thai women. Public drunkenness, especially by women, is frowned upon in Thailand, a conservative Buddhist society.

Arunothai said she couldn’t understand what the fuss was about.

``It was fun and I do not understand why people criticize us for promoting local production. One has to accept the truth that women drinking wine is widely common in the society,″ she said.

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