Miss Florida crowns wrong winner

Pageant officials say scoring error led to Elizabeth Fechtel being crowned

By Michelle Dendy - Web Editor

LEESBURG, Fla. - A scoring error in the 2014 Miss Florida pageant led to a Lake County contestant being wrongly crowned the winner.

Leesburg's Elizabeth Fechtel was named the winner of the pageant last Saturday, but Miss Florida Scholarship Pageant officials said on Friday the correct winner was Victoria Cowen from Panama City.

Fechtel was notified of the error on Thursday and Cowen was awarded of the Miss Florida title, the pageant's executive director said.

According to a post on the Miss America Organization's Facebook, "upon the realization that a tabulation error resulted due to a judge making a change on their score sheet that was not caught when the scores were tabulated, the Miss Florida title was wrongly awarded to Elizabeth Fechtel."

The statement continued, saying, "We understand the impact that news of this type may have on these women and each of these state organizations and the great concern that goes with it. The Miss America Organization ensures there is compliance with the rules set forth among our state organizations to assure the integrity of our program and especially the judging process."

Fechtel's mother told Local 6 she wasn't ready to speak publicly about what happened.

The tight-knit community of Leesburg was planning on throwing a celebratory event for her Miss Florida win.

"I'm so upset, my heart goes out to them," said Joyce Huey, a member of the Leesburg Downtown Association. "I can't even imagine how they are feeling at this point. I can't imagine this took a week to transpire."

The winner of the Miss Florida pageant represents Florida in the Miss America pageant in September.

The Miss America organization also said that the Miss Delaware winner "exceeded the age requirement in order to be eligible to compete" and the runner-up was crowned the winner."

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