*A new Miss Delaware was crowned Thursday after the woman who won earlier this month was stripped her title — for being too old.
Miss Delaware contestants must be 17 to 24 years old, according to the Miss America Organization website.
Amanda Longacre won the title on June 14, but was disqualified because she’ll turn 25 in October. According to the rule book, contestants can not turn 25 before December 31.
The crown, therefore, was handed to first runner-up Brittany Lewis, who turned 24 earlier this year. The former Miss Wilmington was given the crown Thursday night in a brief ceremony at the Dover Downs Hotel Casino.
With her new title comes scholarship money, a year’s contract as Miss Delaware and a September shot at Miss America in Atlantic City.
“The Miss Delaware Pageant is proud to congratulate Brittany and wishes Amanda the very best on her future endeavors,” the organization said in a release.
According to USA Today, the Miss Delaware website, where Longacre was pictured among other contestants early Thursday, went blank Thursday afternoon. The photos were gone and the only message was “The Miss Delaware Website is currently being updated. Please check back soon.”
“I feel like I’m being erased,” Longacre told USA Today Thursday, fighting tears.
Lewis’ first comment after being crowned broke the tension in the room and got a hearty laugh from the crowd of about 60 people. She touched her crown and said, “This thing’s a little heavier than I expected.”
Board member and legal counsel Elizabeth Soucek — Miss Delaware first runner up in 2007 – told gathered media that questions would be limited to those about Lewis.
She later told The News Journal she had directed Lewis and state pageant officials not to comment in any way about Longacre’s disqualification, “due to the possibility of pending litigation.” She did say, however, that qualified contestants could not turn 25 before Dec. 31, calling that “a Miss America rule.”
The question closest to the subject in Lewis’ traditional post-crowning news conference was whether “the circumstance of her crowning” would affect her experience. Lewis beamed, saying, “Not at all.”
She said she looks forward to serving the people of Delaware, representing the state and honoring the memory of her late sister, who was killed in a domestic violence incident in 2010, a loss reflected in her pageant platform of domestic violence awareness and prevention.
Asked about her reaction to hearing she would be elevated, she said she was “running around the room and jumping up and down.”
Lewis, a dancer since age 3, grew up in Brigantine, N.J., and is a mass media and broadcast graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.
She has lived in Delaware for two years, teaching at Prestige Academy in Wilmington through the Teach for America program.
Asked her birthdate — a question allowed by Soucek, who said Lewis could only answer questions she approved — she replied, “July 21, 1990.”
But it was not as joyous of a day for the former winner.
Longacre frequently choked up and fought tears while talking Thursday about being disqualified and stripped of her title, contract, scholarships and shot at Miss America.
“I’m just heartsick,” she said. “I’m just really heartbroken.”
She was still crying this morning during her appearance on “Today.” Watch below: