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Phyllis Ann George, former Miss America, pioneering sportscaster and Kentucky First Lady, dies at 70

She died on Friday due to a blood disorder she reportedly contracted when she was 30 years old
UPDATED MAY 17, 2020
Phyllis Ann George (Getty Images)
Phyllis Ann George (Getty Images)

Former Miss America Phyllis Ann George, a pioneer for women in sportscasting, died on Friday due to a blood disorder at the age of 70. According to reports, she had contracted the rare blood disease when she was 30. 

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, George's son Lincoln Tyler George Brown, a Lexington businessman, and daughter Pamela Ashley Brown, who is White House correspondent for CNN were with her. Lincoln said, "It’s an extraordinary story what she has been through in the last seven years with this."

The joint statement from daughter and son read, "For many, Mom was known by her incredible accomplishments as the pioneering female sportscaster, 50th Miss America, and first lady. But this was all before we were born, and never how we viewed Mom. To us, she was the most incredible mother we could ever ask for, and it is all of the defining qualities the public never saw, especially against the winds of adversity, that symbolize how extraordinary she is more than anything else."

They further added, "The beauty so many recognized on the outside was a mere fraction of her internal beauty, only to be outdone by an unwavering spirit that allowed her to persevere against all the odds."

Since news of her death was announced, condolence messages have poured in. College and Pro football analyst Michael Detillier shared on Twitter, "Summer of 1989 Phyllis George visited the studios of @WWLAMFM and joined Buddy D and I for a Friday @WWLAMFM show. She was open about the difficulties of being a woman in a male-oriented world of sports coverage and also in private business. Phyllis was well-spoken, smart and charming."

Another user wrote, "RIP Phyllis George, a pioneering sports broadcaster who in the ‘70s got Roger Staubach to say in an interview that he enjoyed sex as much as Joe Namath but that he just did it with one woman."

Commentator Tim Brando wrote, "Nothing like a Kentucky game if she was at Commonwealth or Rupp Arena. I’ll never forget the 82’ Regional Finals when @uofl and @KentuckyMBB played and her husband Governor John Y. Brown and Phyllis donned a combination Big Blue/Cardinal Red outfit. Game in Knoxville I recall."

She served as the first lady of Kentucky from 1979 to 1983. She is most famously known for the role that she played in the 1979 campaign with her newlywed husband John Y. Brown Jr. Brown Jr. had also parlayed Kentucky Fried Chicken into a multimillion-dollar, international restaurant chain.