Doh Canada! Beauty pageant farce

00:12, May 30 2013
HAPPIER TIMES: Denise Garrido and Riza Santos during the pagent.
HAPPIER TIMES: Denise Garrido and Riza Santos during the pageant.

For 24 hours, Denise Garrido's dreams had come true.

The 26-year-old had beaten the competition and been crowned Miss Universe Canada.

But then officials realised there had been a huge mistake. Garrido shouldn't have won. In fact, she wasn't even in the top three.

"My heart sank. I was so sad," the disappointed fourth-placed beauty told Toronto's The Star after the title, the crown and the sash were stripped from her.

Garrido, from Bradford, Ontario, was a biomedical sciences graduate who had a black belt in TaeKwon-Do.

Also under her belt were titles for the 2008 Miss Earth Canada and the 2010 Miss World Canada pageants. In spite of the mortifying mistake, she did not hold any animosity towards the organisation.

It all came down to a "typo", the pageant director, Denis Davila said. Somebody hit the wrong key while inputting the judges' scores into a computer, which went on to work out the winner, The Star reported.

The real winner? Riza Santos, a 26-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, who has studied engineering and had previously served in the armed forces when she was a teenager.

By the time the mistake was revealed Santos had flown home, but she had since been reunited with her crown.

On the Beauties of Canada website in the lead up to the competition, Santos gushed about what the title meant to her.

"Becoming the next Miss Universe Canada means much more than merely winning a crown.

"It would give me the opportunity to serve my country and empower women to achieve their dreams. Not everyone aspires to be a beauty queen, but everyone deserves to achieve their dream."

Santos will go on to represent her country at the Miss Universe Competition in the United States in December. Even though she reigned for a day all Garrido will be able to do is continue to dream, until next year.

The competition is not new to controversy after its decision last year to ban a transgender competitor.

Jenna Talackova, then 23, competed with 61 contestants and was among the final 12 contestants.

The Vancouver, British Columbia, native was initially denied entry to the pageant because she was not a natural-born female.

After a global outcry and a petition signed by more than 20,000 people Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organisation, overruled the ban.