Last Saturday night, judges of a beauty show crowned “Ontario’s Denise Garrido” aged 26, the new Miss Universe Canada out of 57 contestants. The next morning, they admitted that they had made a mistake in tabulating the scores and stripped her of her crown. The real winner was Riza Santos, 26, of Calgary.
“It was quite a surprise,” Santos said, Shine of her delayed victory in a phone interview. “It’s only starting to sink in now.” Santos says that she and Garrido haven’t communicated yet, but that the two have known each other since 2008 and Garrido crowned her Miss Canada World in 2011. “I think it’s unfortunate and hard to handle but she’s been very gracious and handling it very well.”
Speaking with reporters, queen-for-a-day Garrido said she suspected something was amiss when she was called into an unscheduled meeting Sunday. “My heart was starting to sink and when the error was announced, I was in a daze.” She added, her voice shaking, “It was absolutely surreal. This fairy-tale-slash-nightmare happened within 24 hours.”
Garrido says she’s trying to see the positive in a difficult situation. “I’ve grown a lot from this experience,” she said in a phone interview. “It was a challenge at the time and was shocking to me…but it could be a great story for women everywhere. I had that moment of being Miss Universe, but not for a whole year. It’s not going to change by me feeling like a victim.”
As of Tuesday, the contest’s website, Beauties of Canada, still referenced Garrido as the winner of the pageant in a blog post. A follow-up post corrected the mistake, listing the “final results” with Santos as the queen.
A statement on the site explains how the error occurred: “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. This is the first instance of this type of error in the 11 years that Beauties of Canada (BOC) has produced the Miss Universe Canada pageant.”
Beauties of Canada also issued an apology to Garrido: “We would like to offer our sincere apology to Denise Garrido for this human error discovered while validating the results. 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.”
Garrido, who said it has been her dream to win Miss Universe since she was a little girl, has been managing her disappointment with poise, and even praised pageant director Denis Devila. “From the director’s perspective, I felt that he was crushed, too, and he was really upset by the situation. He handled it really well.”
Last year’s Miss Universe Canada pageant was also the center of controversy when transgendered contestant Jenna Talackova was barred from entering the final event because she wasn’t “born a woman.” The decision was reversed a few days later after public outcry.
This year’s controversy also faced some public backlash. Some fans, especially those from Garrido’s hometown of Bradford, Ontario, weren’t ready to accept the turnaround. “It should be hers because it was their mistake,” one resident told City news Toronto on Tuesday. “Unless there was some legal [issue] or something like that that she shouldn’t have done, she should remain in first place,” complained another. Garrido responded to the support by saying, “I’m really, really touched. All things, aside I’m grateful that there are so many wonderful people.”
Although her final title for the 2013 pageant was third runner-up (fourth place), Garrido said, “Technically, I won Miss Universe Canada and finished the journey on a high.” Garrido says her immediate plan is to “make the best out of the situation.”
Herald news reported
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