By Shermain Bique-Charles
A blunder by those tallying the final scores of the Miss Showoff Pageant on Sunday night triggered a good deal of awkwardness – and additional expenses to those who funded the show.
One delighted teen was crowned Miss Showoff 2020 on the night – but just hours later she was informed that the coveted title in fact belonged to another young lady, Milove Fontaine, instead.
The mistake, according to pageant manager Shirrine Gillon, was only discovered after the curtains came down and everyone had gone home.
She told Observer, in an exclusive interview, that those tasked with counting the marks were hindered by poor lighting at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre and a rush to declare the winner before the 11pm curfew took effect.
“The judges didn’t do anything wrong but when the tally was being done, we were rushing so we didn’t double check the scores. But my son brought it to my attention that some numbers looked different – like an eight looked like a five in some cases,” she explained.
Gillon said she brought the score sheet straight to the tallier and head judge.
“I went to the tallier and she admitted that there was definitely a mistake, concluding that the young lady who was crowned winner actually came first runner-up and Milove Fontaine, who was not placed, was the true winner,” she revealed.
Gillon said the situation placed her and the organisers in a very uncomfortable situation, but that the only course of action was for both young ladies to be informed.
When the girl initially deemed the winner was informed about the error, she agreed that Fontaine should be crowned.
She was also informed that the title had to be shared, however her mother did not agree and apparently threatened legal action against the organisers.
Gillon said she had to go back to the drawing board to decide on a way forward that would be fair to both young ladies.
“I just couldn’t leave the issue like that. I was told to just leave the matter as is because a queen was already declared. But my conscience couldn’t have it. I don’t like injustice. I just had to make things right,” she said.
According to Gillon, a meeting was later held to iron out the issue and it was decided that the initially-declared winner would retain her crown and Fontaine would be given a different title.
“After Fontaine decided she didn’t want to share the title, we decided on another way forward that both ladies agreed,” Gillon said.
That decision, she continued, is to have the first young girl keep the Miss Showoff 2020 title and crown, and to declare Fontaine Miss Charisma instead.
“I spoke to her about it and she agreed. We decided it’s one show and two crowns. Fontaine will be like an ambassador for the plus-size women in Antigua and Barbuda. I believe she can reach an audience and effect change,” she explained.
The prizes of a full scholarship, a laptop and several other gifts will be distributed between the two young ladies.
Fontaine told Observer that she had been shocked on the night to learn that she hadn’t been placed after winning several segments of the show.
“They want the crown, they can have the crown. It’s not about a crown for me anymore,” she said. “Even if I didn’t place on the night of the show, people saw me for who I am – thick, beautiful, energetic and full of life,” she said.
Fontaine said she feels appreciated that “because of me a new title came about and that thick girls will get a chance to be seen and heard”.
Fontaine was crowned yesterday at the same venue.
The initial winner declined to comment.