Elizabeth Fechtel thought she had the Miss Florida pageant competition in the bag when she was crowned the winner last Saturday. Flash forward five days later to when she was forced to give up her crown after a vote-counting error.
As it turns out, the Miss Florida pageant crowned the wrong winner last Saturday because of a counting error and had to make an embarrassing about-face, reports the Miami Herald.
The 20-year-old University of Florida student held onto the crown until Thursday when a pageant official arrived at her house to inform her that first runner-up Victoria Cowen is getting the crown instead.
To make matters worse, Fechtel had already dropped her classes at the University of Florida to begin her preparation for the Miss America pageant, her mother told the Orlando Sentinel.
Pageant officials reportedly told the Fechtels that one judge changed his mind about who should finish first during the final seconds of his allotted time to vote and drew lines on his ballot to reverse his vote, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The last minute switch got overlooked initially, but a subsequent independent audit confirmed that Cowen was indeed the rightful winner of the competition.
Fetchel took the high road and called to congratulate her opponent, though she’ll have to hand over the thousands in scholarship money she won ever so briefly.
In a statement, the pageant claimed the wrongful crowning was an “error in the tabulation process.” In Delaware, a similar pageant blunder took place. The newly crowned winner was also forced to give up her title because she will turn 25 in Oct., a month after the Miss America competition. Official pageant rules say contestants must be no older than 24 in 2014. Amanda Longacre talked to the Today Show explaining the pageant signed off on her application, and how she did “nothing wrong.”
Miss Florida Pageant Winner Forced to Give Up Crown After Counting Error