Sarah Lawson / LSU Daily Reveille
BATON ROUGE - As the dust settled around a bizarre scoring mishap that resulted in a recall of the Miss LSU-USA pageant crown, Sunday night’s original winner found herself in last place and looking for answers.
Kaitlynn Fish, a communication studies junior at LSU, was crowned Miss LSU-USA in the annual pageant in the Student Union Theater before judges realized a mistake in the Top 5 rankings and recanted the announcements offstage.
LSU accounting major Christina Famularo officially won the title after originally receiving first runner-up. Famularo could not be reached before print deadline.
“I am pleased to have participated in Miss LSU, but I am extremely disappointed that the management of the judging process of this pageant was mishandled.” said Fish, co-anchor of a Tiger TV entertainment show, in an e-mail. “I have been given no explanation as to who was responsible, or how and why this happened.”
Coordinators from Delta Zeta sorority at LSU, the organization that hosts the annual pageant, attributed the error to a discrepancy between the Top 10 and the Top 5 selection groups. Lauren Whitman, DZ-LSU adviser, said the Top 10 is decided by a numerical score, and the five contestants with the highest numerical score advance to the Top 5.
“All the numerical orders are basically wiped out after that,” Whitman said.
But once in the Top 5, the young women are ranked manually according to judge preferences. Whitman said the numerical scores from the Top 10 level translated into the placement of the awards, not the judges’ manual rankings, which are supposed to decide the final placements.
“[The judges] knew something was wrong ... but we couldn’t just stop and say we knew exactly what was wrong,” Whitman said of announcements onstage. “I always tell the girls, at the end of the day you have to do the right thing. ... We had to do the right thing for the integrity of the pageant.”
She said once the issue was articulated, the girls were called back, and the placements were adjusted.
In the amended decision, Lauren Brink earned first runner-up, Nicole Wall took second runner-up, Andrea Daigle won third runner-up, and Fish took fourth runner-up.
KC White, LSU's Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students, said DZ organizers follow rules and scoring regulations from the Miss USA foundation, and the University doesn’t oversee the pageant.
"When the judges brought the item to our attention, we decided the only ethical thing to do was to let them vote," said Jennifer Hale, Delta Zeta-LSU alumna and pageant organizer, on Sunday. Fish is a co-host of The Ramen entertainment show on Tiger TV at LSU. This was her third year participating in Miss LSU-USA.
Whitman said Delta Zeta apologized to Fish and the other women involved in the pageant as well as their families.