Miss Florida

Miss Florida pageant crowns wrong woman after scoring error

 
 
UF student Elizabeth Fechtel was planning to take the next academic year off.
UF student Elizabeth Fechtel was planning to take the next academic year off.

astewart@MiamiHerald.com

After Elizabeth Fechtel was crowned Miss Florida 2014 on Saturday, sorority sisters gushed on social media. Several news outlets interviewed the Leesburg native. Fechtel called the pageant life-changing, saying she was “privileged and thrilled to have become Miss Florida.”

The excitement was short-lived.

Late Thursday, pageant officials visited Fechtel to inform her of a massive error: The crown should’ve gone to the first runner-up instead.

The Miami-based organization released a press release Friday saying that a tabulation mistake resulted in the title being awarded to Fechtel instead of runner-up Victoria Cowen.

Fechtel planned to take a year off from her studies at the University of Florida to prepare for the Miss America Pageant, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The university shared a congratulatory message on Twitter and sent out a press release. By Friday evening, the statement was updated to reflect the pageant error. But the Miss Florida website still showed Fechtel next to a sparkling “Miss Florida” graphic.

Florida isn’t the only state making news for pageant blunders.

Amanda Longacre, Miss Delaware, had her title revoked Tuesday because she turns 25 in October, which violates Miss America rules. Participants cannot turn 25 before the end of 2014.

While Longacre will reportedly keep the $9,000 in scholarship money she received with the crown, the Tampa Bay Times reports that Fechtel will have to give her scholarship winnings to Cowen.

The national pageant will be held in Atlantic City, N.J. Calls to the pageant’s president and executive director Mary E. Sullivan weren't returned as of Friday afternoon.

Late Friday, the Miss America organization shared a headshot of Cowen on its Facebook page and congratulated her on her new title.

“We thank Elizabeth Fechtel and wish her the very best,” the post adds.

Further down, there’s a post with nearly 3,000 likes from earlier in the week — a smiling portrait of Fechtel.

The caption reads, “Congratulations to Elizabeth Fechtel on being crowned Miss Florida 2014!”

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