TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - Just a week after
her coronation, the winner of the 2014 Miss Florida pageant was
dethroned on Friday when organizers said they had crowned the wrong
woman after a vote-count error.
Elizabeth Fechtel, a 20-year-old student at the University of
Florida, won this year's pageant in front of nearly 2,000 spectators
last Saturday in St. Petersburg, Florida.
But the ballot counter didn't see that one of the five judges had
changed his mind, writing a new line up on the left-hand side of his
The true Miss Florida contest winner was Victoria Cowen, a
21-year-old student at Florida State University.
Meanwhile, in Delaware, beauty contest winner Amanda Longacre was
stripped of her crown as Miss Delaware this week because she will
turn 25 in October and pageant rules say contestants must be no
older than 24 in 2014. [ID:nL2N0P81FS]
After the Florida mix-up came to light this week, pageant organizers
sought an independent review, said Mary Sullivan, executive director
of the Miss Florida pageant.
Sullivan delivered the bad news to Fechtel in person on Thursday
evening, traveling to her home in Leesburg, Florida.
"Our organization had to do the right thing, and the right thing is
to crown the young woman that was intended to be crowned," Sullivan
Sullivan was not aware of another vote count error of this nature,
although pageant winners have been disqualified for other reasons,
Fechtel is now the runner-up, and Cowen will compete in September's
Miss America contest. The two women are friends, Sullivan said,
which made the conversations even harder.