Denise Garrido's dream came true on Saturday, May 25, when she was crowned the 2013 Miss Universe Canada winner in Toronto. But that dream quickly turned into a nightmare when pageant officials informed her less than 24 hours later that they were stripping her of her new title -- because of a so-called "typo."
According to Miss Universe Canada director Denis Davila, an error had been made the night before when an employee input the judges' handwritten scores into a computer. The mistake had significantly affected the outcome of the pageant; Garrido, 26, hadn't finished first, second, or even third. In fact, her scores put her in fourth place, the third runner-up to the real winner, Riza Santos, also 26.
"My heart sank," Garrido told the Toronto Star after the typo had been reported. "I was so sad."
Santos, for her part, has mixed feelings about winning under such awkward circumstances. "It was quite a surprise. It's only starting to sink in now," she told Yahoo! Shine of the bittersweet victory. Of the controversy, she added: "I think it's unfortunate and hard to handle, but [Denise Garrido has] been very gracious and [is] handling it very well."
Miss Universe Canada spokesman Andrew Lopez told the Star that an independent party (lawyer Nick Macos of Black Sutherland LLP) usually inputs the results into a computer. However, Macos was unavailable this year, so officials assigned the task to a pageant employee. The error was found on Sunday by a third-party audit.
Beauties of Canada, which produces the competition, issued a mea culpa for the mistake on Sunday, after Garrido had been stripped of her crown and sash. "We would like to offer our sincere apology to Denise Garrido for this human error discovered while validating the results," a statement on the pageant's website read.
"Miss Garrido's example and grace represents all we look for at Miss Universe Canada," the statement continued. "We have no doubt she will continue to succeed in her endeavors and we wish her well. We truly hope she remains a strong part of the Miss Universe Canada Organization."
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