Love Island’s Sharon Gaffka looks unrecognisable in throwback picture as beauty queen tipped to win

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Love Island's Sharon Gaffka has undergone a incredible transformation from baby-faced pageant hopeful to influencer-worthy TV star.

Sharon was the first 2021 contestant to be confirmed on Monday afternoon and is already being tipped as an early frontrunner to win the show.

The 25-year-old's Instagram is filled with high glamour shots of her posing in underwear with perfectly curled locks and bright red lipstick.

But she started her journey as a beauty queen with a very different aesthetic. A photograph snapped by a fan shows Sharon sporting long, dark hair extensions and a modest white tee.

The caption reads: "Didcot's very own beauty pageant at a fundraising evening."

Sharon is a civil servant for the Department for Transport (DfT). She worked as an operations lead and also did a stint in the Department of Health and Social Care to assist with the roll-out of the NHS Test and Trace system during the pandemic.

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ITV confirmed Sharon as the first Love Island contestant of 2021 on Instagram page on Monday morning, writing: "Sharon has conquered beauty pageants, worked on government policies and is now ready to take on the villa #LoveIsland."

It'll be a bit of a change from Whitehall, but it's not the first time that the worlds of politics and Love Island have collided.

Zara McDermott, a former policy adviser at the Department for Education, appeared in the fourth series of the show in 2018.

Sharon describes herself as the "outrageous" one of her friendship group and said she wants to head to the Love Island villa after an "intense" year working in government departments during the coronavirus crisis.

She explained: "I've been doing Brexit policy for the last year, I did a stint during the pandemic in the Department of Health so I was helping deliver testing kits and managing the operations. It's been an intense year."

Sharon is also a Young Women's Trust ambassador, representing the feminist organisation which is dedicated to achieving economic justice for young women.

She campaigns to end period poverty and raises awareness of the issue with her nearly 15,000 followers on Instagram.

Sharon has also revealed she shares a hidden connection with former contestant Molly-Mae Hague.

During her introductory Q&A session ahead of the return of the programme on Monday 28 June, the stunning star said she shared the same pageant director as 22-year-old Molly-Mae.

When asked what she's looking for in a partner, she said: "I have this thing where if something doesn’t work out with one person, I’ll try and go for the other extreme to see if that works out.

"I tend to date someone who is taller than me, even though my last long-term partner, he was actually someone who was shorter than me."

She continued: "I’m quite an intellectual person so I want someone who can kind of match that."

According to Ladbrokes, Brad and Sharon are heading into Love Island as the early favourites to win.

The bookies have revealed the early frontrunners in the betting ahead of the return of the hit ITV show, and as things stand punters are seemingly convinced Brad McLelland (3/1) and Sharon Gaffka (3/1).

Elsewhere, Brummie Liberty Poole is the show's current rank outsider at 8/1, while Jake Cornish (6/1) is the least likely of the boys to win this series.

Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: "Every female winner up to this point in the last six series of Love Island entered the show on day one, and punters are convinced it's Sharon who'll be joining the likes of Dani Dyer and Amber Gill this year."

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