Oops, this is not the real Miss Florida
Tampa, Florida: Just a week after her coronation, the winner of the 2014 Miss Florida pageant was dethroned yesterday when organisers 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 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 ballot.
Elizabeth Fechtel (left) was wrongly crowned Miss Florida instead of Victoria Cowen. Fechtel is now the runner-up, and Cowen will compete in September’s Miss America contest. Pic/AFP
The true Miss Florida contest winner is Victoria Cowen, a 21-year-old student at Florida State University.
Pageant organisers sought an independent review, said Mary Sullivan, executive director of the Miss Florida pageant. Sullivan delivered the bad news to Fechtel in person.
“Our organisation had to do the right thing, and the right thing is to crown the young woman that was intended to be crowned,” Sullivan said.
She added, she wasn’t 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.
“We would have been very proud either way because they are so exceptional,” Sullivan said. “Once we were made aware of it, we couldn’t stand by and just not do anything.” Both Fechtel and Cowen remained unavailable for comment.