The former Miss Delaware 2014 Amanda Longacre should have the chance at competing for becoming Miss America 2014, says Natalie McGovern, who is the currently reigning as Ms. Nebraska United States 2014, a beauty pageant organization partnered with Miss World. McGovern should know since she also happens to be the first beauty queen ever to have an organizational error related to the Miss America age limit.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, Longacre lost her crown based upon a technicality, because she was "too old" by only a few months. Miss America pageant rules state that contestants must not only be no older than 24, but they also cannot turn 25 before the end of the year. Longacre had submitted her birth certificate, driver's license, and other documents beforehand, yet no one noticed she had technically broken the seemingly arbitrary Miss America age limit rules until after the fact.
While the Miss America organization has already promised to reinstate her scholarship, Longacre is also seeking $3 million in damages in a lawsuit, with $500,000 asked for the former Miss Delaware and the remaining $2.5 million would go to other contestants who were certified to compete but then were disqualified for one reason or another.
Natalie McGovern can attest that Miss Delaware Amanda Longacre was not the first beauty queen to be dethroned over an age clause. She even testified to that fact when Amanda Longacre's lawsuit was filed. In 2012, McGovern won the local Miss America title of Miss Alliance, and yet only an hour later was stripped of her crown because she was suddenly "too old" based upon the rules. Prior to the beauty pageant, McGovern had been given permission by her director to compete because she specifically double-checked whether she was eligible to compete since the wording of the contract was confusing.
She was age 23 when she asked this question, and the local Miss America organization confirmed she met the requirements... until she actually won. Based upon the discretion of the Miss Nebraska board, which oversaw the local beauty pageants, McGovern was told she could not speak out or post any information online about her winning after the error was discovered. Even with being confirmed as eligible by the organization prior to the contest, McGovern suffered all the repercussions of a scandal despite being age 24 when she won the beauty queen crown.
A recent incident also happened to give weight to McGovern's story. Miss Alabama 2011 Courtney Porter was allowed to go to Miss America 2012 at age 25, which would seem a clear violation of the rules.
Some may argue that it is not fair that the Miss America organization allowed one contestant to go to Miss America when past the age of eligibility, yet they are now stripping the crown of Amanda Longacre for the age limit.
In order to discuss this issue, we contacted Natalie McGovern for an exclusive interview.
Inquisitr: Thank you for speaking with us. Based upon the previous history of Miss America, it does seem like the rules are modified on a whim.
Yes. And there are so many inconsistencies with regulations. When I talked to the field director of Miss America back in 2012 I asked him about Miss Alabama Courtney Porter going to compete for Miss America. He said Porter had her birthday on the day of the competition. It still breaks the rule since you are not supposed to be age 25 during your reigning year as Miss America. Even after he told me that, I still could not see how that was fair.
Do you believe there should be a maximum age at all?
I do, I wish it was age 28. If you look at past Miss America history, they did have the age raised at one point but then lowered it so that the Miss division could compete at 17. I believe it was 28.
Why do you think there is a Miss America age limit; is it due to creating age brackets for different levels of competition?
I believe that is the reason, although it has never been truly clarified other than the fact they wanted to create a pageant that would cater to college age students. I just graduated college at age 26, and I was in college way past the age of 24.
Age 24 does seem kind of arbitrary. Since the prize includes college scholarships, there are those who may get involved while older.
I think that keeping the age at 24 for Miss America is not relevant anymore. Women are often in college for many years in order to achieve graduate and doctorate degrees. I hoped that with my local incident, and writing my plea to the Miss America Organization (MAO) board to extend the age, that it would indeed do something to amend the age limit rule. However, at the time, they made clear they had no plans whatsoever to change the age.
Did you read about the Miss Florida situation?
Yes, I did. That, too, has unfortunately happened at the local level and was caused by wrong tabulations. The dethroned Miss Florida 2014 is a former Miss America Outstanding Teen. And she has already been with Miss America as their teen queen and spokesperson. She can come back and try again to compete. But, for Amanda and I, it was our last year to ever try for our dream at winning Miss America.
I'm sure the miscounting of the judge's votes is an easy mistake to make considering that they were hand-written, but it still seems wrong to crown someone, announce it to the world, and then embarrass the woman by snatching it back later.
I entered the Miss America pageant because I am a singer and I wanted to get my career off the ground. I would have had exposure singing at Miss Nebraska and the chance to vye for the talent scholarship that they offer. I was sold a dream and then they took it away.
In my opinion, if the organization announces a winner,then they should stick with the choice unless there's an obvious case of rule breaking like cheating.
Where do you think the MAO should draw the line on this type of scenario?
I believe that if the organization has made an error then they need to take ownership of the mistake and responsibility for their actions and right what was wrong. Unless a contestant is willingly breaking rules, falsifying information, or being unethical, they should make amends for these types of situations that have happened and not hold the winner at fault when she did not intentionally break any rules.
Of course, the runner-up who takes the crown may feel differently on the matter. After Longacre was disqualified, Brittany Lewis automatically became Miss Delaware 2014 as the first runner-up. In my last article on the subject, I posed the scenario of the MAO allowing two winners from the same state. What do you think about that solution to the problem?
I, too, have thought about this; that it might be considered. I looked at a case study done on a local pageant where two girls went to court and then both were allowed to represent at Miss Texas. I believe that they both did in that scenario. Perhaps it would be best to let Amanda compete at Miss America 2014 and Brittany reign for a part of the year, or something to that extent. Amanda rightfully won the title so I think she should be allowed to be reinstated. But to send two titleholders to Miss America 2014 could be very controversial and definitely would make Miss America history. Still, the MAO may rule that Amanda is Miss Delaware, and Brittany no longer holds that title at all.
It will be interesting to see which way the courts rule.
The Miss Delaware Organization has moved forward and are not acknowledging Amanda. At their sole decision, they crowned Brittany while they are going into litigation. The MAO have made their stand, they have moved on and crowned a new Miss Delaware. The same thing happened to me. They crowned a new Miss Alliance and she competed at Miss Nebraska instead of me going when I had won.
Have you had any contact with Longacre over the issue?
Yes, I told her my story of what happened to let her know she is not alone and that this has happened before. I shared the interview I did for PageantLive in December of 2013 on Facebook. She saw it and then we were in touch. Before Amanda was dethroned, I filmed the interview with Pageant Verite; a show that talks about the truth of pageantry. I also shared my story with them this past December.
It took me almost two years to come out about what happened, but I felt, with the issues I had to face with clearing my name in my pageant community, that it needed to come out and my story be told. So I filmed my interview in December and then Amanda was dethroned in June. In 2012, when this happened, I did not go to the media and the incident was extremely hush-hush. I wanted to tell my story but wasn't ready and it took time to get closure. I am still gaining closure.
Do you think your personal testimony may come up in court because of the lawsuit?
I do think it will since I really am the first contestant to be dethroned over age. Yes, it was at a local level, but it happened to me in 2012 and is the first documented Miss America case. Amanda won her local and they did not discover this even as she reigned as Miss Pike Creek and then competed at state. If they had caught it at the local level, then it could have been prevented. The level this incident is at is huge because it is Miss America; a girl's life will literally change overnight and the only thing standing between Amanda and that dream is an age clause.
Amanda had permission to compete. I had permission from my local director. I would not have competed if I knew I was too old. I asked her if I met the age requirement and she confirmed with me that I did. I made sure I was eligible. I provided documents: birth certificate, social security card and driver's license. So did Amanda. The directors knew our birth dates and the judges even saw the birth date on the bio sheet when you go into your interview. All the pertinent documents were provided and signed off on by the MAO. It is a complete oversight of the organization and, in my opinion, a negligence.
I've read how winners set priorities and plans based upon the assumption that you're going for Miss America after winning at the state level. From what I understand, Longacre cancelled her college plans and made other life decisions on the basis that she would be Miss Delaware 2014. Since you have first hand experience, how else does Miss America snatching away the crown suddenly change your life?
When I lost my title I also lost my scholarship. I lost the chance to compete for my dream. After I was dethroned, I fell very ill and I fell behind in school for a good semester. I graduated later due to my illness. I experienced ostracism from my pageant community. For months, I was not myself, and I had to fight to rebuild friendships with my pageant sisters because they thought I had a scandal. No one knew the reason why I was dethroned; it was left hanging and open, never disclosed because the Miss Nebraska organization had made an error.
I have to fight to clear my name, all the time. To this day, have contestants I competed with not wanting to speak to me because of this incident and they even have chosen to unfriend me on Facebook. I have been struggling with health issues for two years due to trauma, and because of this I graduated later than originally planned. In every essence, this event has changed my life and it is very personal. It was very hard to talk about at first, but I find that the more I share my story, the more I am starting to gain closure.
My goal in this lawsuit is to be publicly recognized by Miss America and the Miss Nebraska board that I won the title of Miss Alliance, and to have my $200 scholarship be returned. I have a college loan debt of $25,000 that could have helped go towards paying it off. Competing in Miss America was another way to help pay for college.
Do you have a final thought you want to share?
Miss America is a great organization that supports women and is the leading provider of college scholarships for women. I want to affirm that the regulations for the Miss America age requirement need to be more concrete and consistently enforced.
Thank you for your time, and I wish you well during your reign as Ms. Nebraska United States 2014.
Readers: do you think Amanda Longacre should be given back her title as Miss Delaware 2014? What would you say if Miss America 2014 featured two title-holders from Delaware?