Leesburg woman loses Miss Florida crown as pageant admits judging error

Leesburg's Elizabeth Fechtel, center, is shown as the winner of the Miss Florida pageant. The newly declared winner, Victoria Cowen, is second from the left.

Leesburg’s Elizabeth Fechtel, center, is shown as the winner of the Miss Florida pageant. The newly declared winner, Victoria Cowen, is second from the left.

Leesburg’s Elizabeth Fechtel has lost her Miss Florida crown in a pageant “judging error.”

Fechtel has been replaced by first runner-up, Victoria Cowen of Panama City. Cowen will now represent the Sunshine State in the Miss America pageant Sept. 14 in Atlantic City

The pageant announced Friday that someone miscounted the votes and the wrong contestant had been crowned Miss Florida.

Fechtel had withdrawn from the University of Florida to prepare for the Miss American competition. At UF she was a student senator and a recruitment chair for her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi.

She had initially been named Miss Florida this past week in St. Petersburg.


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  1. Vic Paul says

    Doing the right thing is not always easy but the right thing was done in this case. That being said, who doesn’t feel bad for Elizabeth?

  2. Jeanette Major says

    Fifteen Second before the bell and one judge changed his mind. What? In my opinion Elizabeth should receive the same awards since her crown was taken away. Lets be fair about it. If she can’t keep the crown then do the next best thing and give her some rewards no matter what.

    • Rick Gadlinger says

      I’ll bet Victoria Cowen would not agree with you…….but seriously, you are probably right. Tough one….should the rightful winner get her crown or do we consider the heartbreak for the new “loser”?

  3. Don Cammel says

    WOW! We tell the nation we can’t count votes with hanging chad, then we award a beauty contest and can’t do simple math. The pagent officials should not have reopened the results once they were announced. This puts Florida in the wrong spotlight again! I feel sorry for the young lady that was awarded the crown and then had it taken away. She did nothing wrong and ends up in a controversial situation. Once the award was made, the books should have been closed or even destroyed. Seems really bad for the image of this type of pagent. Corporate sponsors have to be shaking their heads too!

      • Cathy Smith says

        Seriously you think the books should be closed and leave the mistake alone? Shame on you for not wanting the right thing to be done and give the girls who deserves to win the crown. I’m sure if it was the other way around Elizabeth would want the right thing done if she was suppose to be crowned. Honesty is always the best policy. My daughter was a 1st runner up and how sad if in your way of thinking there was a mistake she would never get the opportunity that she deserved. Elizabeth is a outstanding person and would not want a title that she does not deserve .

    • Sarah Muglich says

      You are so right. That is the perfect solution. This story needs more explanation. How did they miscount the votes to begin with? How did they come to realize the counting was incorrect?

        • John Heigl says

          Absolutely hilarious — as well as vote count infighting and “special program electronic vote counters…” From the looks of the ladies in the photo, don’t think it will make much difference in the long run — there may not even be one pretty enough to work the Fox News desk

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