It seems there cannot be a beauty pageant these days without a scandal, especially in Canada.
Denise Garrido of Bradford, Ontario, thought she was victorious after being named the 2013 Miss Universe Canada on Saturday in Toronto. But a mere 24 hours later, pageant organizers announced there was an error and the real winner was Riza Santos of Calgary, Alberta.
It turns out that Garrido was initially named the winner because of a typo on the final score sheet. The 26-year-old met with pageant director Denis Davila, who took away her crown after informing her of the error that occurred when the judges' handwritten scores were entered into the computer incorrectly.
“My heart sank,” Garrido told TheStar.com. “I was so sad.”
Davila informed Garrido that she was actually the fourth runner-up in the pageant. The third runner-up, 26-year-old Rizo Santos, was crowned the winner of the 2013 Miss Universe Canada pageant on Sunday.
The pageant said in a statement that “human error” was to blame. According to The Star, the veteran employee who had been responsible for putting the results into the computer for more than a decade was not available this year, leaving the task up to a rookie.
“During the validation of the computerized scoring results (which occurs the following day), a typo was discovered in the top 5 entries, which significantly impacted the final results of the competition,” a statement read. “Miss Garrido’s example and grace represents all we look for at Miss Universe Canada. 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."
Despite the error, Garrido told The Star she holds no hard feelings for the pageant, though she deeply wanted to be the winner.
“It’s been the ultimate dream of mine,” Garrido, who was named the 2008 Miss Earth Canada and 2010 Miss World Canada winner, said. “All of the other pageants were building toward this one.”
“I will always have the memory of being the 24-hour queen,” she continued. The pageant said Garrido will join the real winner, Santos, on some of her titleholder duties, including being a judge for the 2014 pageant. Santos will compete in against the other Miss Universe contestants in the Donald Trump-owned pageant series later this year, where a new global Miss Universe will be crowned.
"We are extremely lucky to have such a gracious young lady," pageant spokesman Andrew Lopez told The Star of Garrido. "She totally understands ... You can do the right thing and correct it, or do the wrong thing and try to cover it up."
But other competitors in the Miss Universe Canada pageant feel uneasy about the mixup, like Marwa Ishow, who also competed in the 2013 pageant. “How we do we know that everything else wasn’t wrong?” the 22-year-old said. “The whole pageant seems like it was staged.”
Meanwhile, Santos is thankful that she was named the winner, even though it wasn’t during the pageant itself on Saturday. "I would like to say thank you to God, my family, friends, and all of my supporters during this humbling yet rewarding journey to become Miss Universe Canada,” she wrote on her website. “I can't begin to express my gratitude and excitement to represent Canada on the international stage. It's an honour to represent our country and I ask you for your continued support and prayers."
Last year’s pageant, the 2012 Miss Universe Canada, was not without controversy after a transgender competitor, Jenna Talackova, was disqualified to compete because she was not born a woman. The pageant, though, later announced that it will allow transgender women to compete in future pageants, changing the language in the official rules and policies. Talackova ended up placing in the top 12, falling short of the crown.