(Reuters) - A beauty contest winner, stripped of her crown as Miss Delaware due to age, said on Friday she had done nothing wrong and wants to be allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant even though she will turn 25 this year.
Amanda Longacre said she learned on Tuesday that she had been disqualified because the Miss Delaware pageant determined that she had violated the age requirement. On NBC’s “Today” show on Friday, a tearful Longacre said she was consulting a lawyer.
Pageant rules require Miss Delaware contestants to be no older than 24 and they cannot turn 25 before the end of the year. Longacre’s 25th birthday is Oct. 22.
In another upset, the winner of the 2014 Miss Florida pageant was dethroned on Friday just a week after her coronation when organizers said they had crowned the wrong woman after a vote-count error.
Pageant officials said Elizabeth Fechtel, a 20-year-old University of Florida student, would have to turn over her tiara to the true Miss Florida, 21-year-old Florida State University student Victoria Cowen. (Full Story)
Delaware’s Longacre said on Friday that she had been honest when she turned in her pageant application, providing her birth certificate, driver’s license and other documents.
“I did absolutely nothing wrong and I want to make that clear,” Longacre said in an interview with the News Journal of Wilmington.
“Now I have lost everything, my scholarship money for school, my prizes and my crown, all because of a technicality that was not caught by the executive board.”
Sam Haskell, chief executive and board chairman of the Miss America pageant, said Longacre will get the $9,000 scholarship given to the pageant winner, as will the new Miss Delaware.
“Because we’re a scholarship organization, because we want to be benevolent and because our heart breaks for her, we’re going to give her the $9,000,” he said in an interview.
A resident of Bear, Delaware, Longacre won the title of Miss Delaware on June 14. The winners of state pageants compete in September to become Miss America.
Longacre was replaced this week by the first runner-up in the pageant, Brittany Lewis, 23, of Wilmington, who was crowned at a special ceremony on Thursday.
“It’s like they’re trying to erase me in a way like it never happened,” Longacre said on “Today.”
“And it’s not fair because I won outright and I deserve to represent my state and I want the chance still to go to Miss America.”
An attorney for the Miss Delaware pageant, Elizabeth Soucek, said the pageant would have little comment because litigation could be pending.
“All I can say is that there is an age requirement to be eligible to compete in Miss America,” Soucek said.
Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Bill Trott and David Gregorio