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From the Archives: Vanna White Was on Our Cover

In June 2003, the Wheel of Fortune star graced our cover—and that wasn't the only shocker


San Diego Magazine has had brief dalliances with celebrity cover models—Charger LaDainian Tomlinson in June 2005, pro skater Tony Hawk in July 2011, The Bachelor’s Dr. Andy Baldwin in October 2011. But it was Vanna White gracing the cover of our June 2003 issue—coinciding with Wheel of Fortune’s weeklong taping in San Diego—that got us starstruck.

Look at recent issues and you’ll see that our covers are leaning more burgers-and-beer than boldface names. But that’s not the only major difference between then and now. In the 2003 Best of San Diego feature, we included some categories you’d be hard pressed to find in 2018.

For instance, sports (right, bottom) was newsy enough 15 years ago that not only did writers Thomas K. Arnold, Tom Blair, Ron Donoho, and Margie Farnsworth open the piece with mentions of the Chargers and Padres, but we devoted an entire page to athletic achievements, including Best Golf Tournament (the Buick Invitational), Best Batting Cage (JP Longball in Old Town), and Best New Draft Pick (Alyson Wagner from the San Diego Spirit soccer team, complete with a high-school-portrait-style shot of Wagner resting her chin on a soccer ball).

We’ve shifted to more straightforward categories—food and drink, shopping, arts and culture. But in 2003 we grouped winners into seemingly random subheadings, ranging from “Politics” to “Little Italy”—and that was before the neighborhood had even exploded into the thriving scene it is now. Back then it won for Best Billboard (for realtor Anthony Napoli), Ethnic Festival (Little Italy Festa), and Supermarket Point-of-Display (Cedar Street Market’s idea to sell “boneless chicken dinners,” aka hardboiled eggs, for 35 cents at the register).

The writers also used the cover story as an opportunity to drum up excitement for Petco Park, which would open the following year. On their list speculating about the worst thing the Padres could do at the new ballpark, answers ranged from: “After home runs, instead of announcer Jerry Coleman shouting, ‘Oh, doctor!’ he’ll now yell, ‘Oh, veterinarian!’” to “Instead of playing ‘Hell’s Bells’ when relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman strides to the mound, use Celine Dion’s version of ‘How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?’” It wasn’t all snark, though. They ended on a positive note, with the best thing the team could do: “Just win, dog.”

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